Scientists and researchers are continuously working on a cure for cerebral palsy, but a lot of current research is focusing on understanding the disorder better, identifying risk factors and causes, and finding and creating advanced treatment options.
About Cerebral Palsy Research
The majority of research on cerebral palsy in the United States is led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its counterpart, the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is also extremely active in researching cerebral palsy.
In fact, due to the vast research of the organizations, most of what people know about cerebral palsy today came from these organizations’ years of study and research. Research and studies are still ongoing, and are currently focusing on the following:
Genetic Defects Research
In some instances, genetic defects are responsible for a child developing cerebral palsy. Scientists are trying to search for and identify how genetic factors may cause cerebral palsy by collecting DNA samples from those who currently have cerebral palsy, along with samples from their family members.
Sophisticated screenings techniques are used with the collected samples in order for scientists to discover links between cerebral palsy and gene abnormalities.
White Matter Damage Research
Cerebral palsy is most commonly caused by damage to the white matter in the brain, specifically the white matter surrounding the brain’s ventricles.
Researchers and scientists are trying to develop effective strategies to prevent white matter damage. They are currently using mouse models and cell-based therapies to help prevent perinatal white matter damage.
Botulinum toxin, more commonly known as Botox, is frequently used to treat children with cerebral palsy who exhibit severe spastic movements. However, scientists continue to research the effects of Botox, particularly its effectiveness with improving lower leg bone structure and helping with daily vibration treatment.
Constraint-induced therapy (CIT)
Constraint-induced therapy (CIT) is a promising new form of therapy for cerebral palsy. It involves putting the child’s stronger limb in a cast, which forces the weaker limb to work extra when doing daily activities and exercises.
NICHD-backed research is helping researchers and scientists determine the best methods of CIT to help children, as well as the different levels of training the child’s weak limbs should go through.
Other areas and treatment options for cerebral palsy that NIH is currently researching include:
- Systemic hypothermia
- Functional electrical stimulation (FES)
Non-Government Research on Cerebral Palsy
In addition to in-depth research provided by NIH, non-government agencies also conduct ongoing research in attempt to help children with cerebral palsy live better lives.
The March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization that has ongoing research studies to help prevent premature births and birth defects, both of which heighten the risk of cerebral palsy.
The Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation
The Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation, also a non-profit organization, assists in funding research efforts to better understand the cause of cerebral palsy, better treatment options, and research on finding a cure for the disorder.