Cerebral palsy cannot be cured. However, symptom management is possible with the involvement of a variety of medical specialists and custom cerebral palsy treatment plans. Children with CP often require lifelong care from a team of the health professionals, which may consist of the following:
A pediatrician is a medical doctor with a certified specialty in the health of newborns, infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. He or she plays an integral role in the treatment plan and medical care of a child with cerebral palsy until age 18 (or 21).
A physiatrist is a medical doctor with a certified specialty in physical medicine and rehabilitation. The physiatrist advises on improving the functional capacities of the patient with cerebral, including physical, occupational, and psychological therapies.
A neurologist is a medical doctor with a certified specialty in diagnosing and treating brain and nervous system (neurological) disorders. He or she would likely be the medical practitioner to confirm your child’s diagnosis of cerebral palsy.
An orthopedic surgeon is a medical doctor with a certified specialty in the diagnosis and operative treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, diseases, and disorders. He or she may recommend interventions to prevent or treat deformities of the spine and limbs symptomatic of more severe types of cerebral palsy.
A physical therapist, or physiotherapist, is a health practitioner with training in human kinetics and physical rehabilitation. He or she carries out individually-designed treatment programs to improve the physical functioning, or alleviate pain, of muscles, tissues, and joints experienced by people with cerebral palsy.
An occupational therapist is a health practitioner with training in human participation/occupation, normally studied within the umbrella of a medical faculty. He or she assists individuals with cerebral palsy participate in daily activities and tasks often through use of assistive devices, technology and modification techniques.
A speech-language pathologist is a medical professional with special training in diagnosing and treating speech, voice, and language disorders. Some children with cerebral palsy may struggle with speech, language ability, and/or swallowing, and in most severe cases may be entirely non-verbal.
The degree of involvement from these healthcare professional may lessen or increase over time, depending on the changing needs of the child.
A social worker may help parents of children with cerebral palsy access community and government resources. A mental health professional, a psychologist (doctorate in psychology) or a psychiatrist (medical degree), may provide support to parents, as well as to the child as he or she ages.
A special education teacher focuses on children with learning disabilities. Children with cerebral palsy are not necessarily impaired intellectually; however, a special education teacher may be helpful on a case-by-case basis in determining educational needs and identifying appropriate educational resources and methodologies.
Children with cerebral palsy also have access to child development centers across British Columbia.
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