Cerebral Palsy and Falling Issues
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Children and people of all ages with cerebral palsy are at a heightened risk of falling due to the disorder’s numerous symptoms that affect balance and coordination. Yet, there are steps you can take as a parent or caregiver to ensure your child has the best treatment plans and aids available to help reduce frequent falling.
Type of Cerebral Palsy And Walking Problems
People with cerebral palsy will have varying degrees of mobility limitations. For instance, those with spastic cerebral palsy have jerking movements and an awkward gait while walking, whereas those with athetoid cerebral palsy (dyskinetic) will have involuntary movements while walking that can affect their balance. People with ataxic cerebral palsy experience shaky movements while walking and have difficulties with balance, while those with mixed cerebral palsy will have a combination of the aforementioned symptoms.
Falling and Cerebral Palsy
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), adults with cerebral palsy tend to have more issues with falling than teens and children with the disorder. Mobility starts to decline drastically during middle and older adulthood. With the decline of mobility comes a drastic increase in falling. However, people of all ages with cerebral palsy can fall easily due to imbalance issues and non-voluntary movements.
Falling may seem like an innocuous incident, especially for children who are prone to scrapes and accidents while playing or running around. However, a rough fall for children with cerebral palsy can lead to sprains, broken bones, and an increase in CP symptoms.
Therapy is one of the leading ways to help children and adults with cerebral palsy reduce their chances of falling.
Physical therapy provides patients with exercises, stretching techniques, balance routines, and other regimes that promote strength, balance, coordination, increase muscle tone, and more.
Most doctors recommend that all children with cerebral palsy should enroll in physical therapy sessions as soon as possible after diagnosis. For more information, refer to our article, Cerebral Palsy Physical Therapy.
Aquatic therapy is a relatively new concept for helping children with cerebral palsy, but for many, it’s proven beneficial. Aquatic therapy not only helps boost confidence, but it also improves muscle tone, balance, circulation, and physical function, all of which help reduce falls and other accidents.
For more information, refer to our article, Cerebral Palsy Aquatic Therapy.
Mobility Aids greatly assist children from falling, especially those who have trouble walking on their own. Mobility aids can range from anything to a walker, crutches, leg braces, and canes.
Orthotic devices that can help children with walking and reduce the chances of falling include:
- Foot or ankle-foot orthotics
- Spinal orthotics
- Knee orthotics
- Knee-ankle orthotics
Walkers also come in various kinds, including:
- Two-wheeled walkers
- Four-wheeled walkers
- Gait trainers
- Walkers with chest support
- Suspension Walkers
Canes can be adjusted to the child’s specific height and are used for walking support and to help prevent falling accidents. The most common types of canes include:
- Folding canes with seats
When walking issues are severe, orthopedic surgery may be recommended. Orthopedic surgery provides a host of benefits which can all reduce falling accidents, including:
- Correction of spinal curvatures
- Reduced muscle stiffness and spasms
- Correction of joints and tendons
- Prevention of hip dislocation, and more
Regardless of what type of assistance you decide on, be certain to speak with your child’s health care team beforehand. It’s always a good idea to get professional medical assessments on your child’s strengths and weaknesses, which can ultimately help you make a better decision with what aids/therapy will be the most beneficial.