Cerebral palsy (CP) is classified as a non-progressive type of impairment to the immature brain. This causes an inability to control muscles, movement and posture. The severity of the condition can be very mild or extremity debilitating.
In adults, the non-progressive classification is questionable. Some people with CP lose function as they age and, as a result of long-term abnormal muscle patterns and movements, new physical problems emerge later in life.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
New symptoms that may emerge with adults with CP may include:
- Increased muscle contractures, resulting from limbs remaining in a fixed position
- Increased spasms
- Joint pain and discomfort
Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy
New symptoms can be diagnosed with physical assessment, MRI and x-ray imaging. An adult with CP can be re referred back to an orthopaedic or neuro consultant for diagnosis and treatment.
Orthotic Treatment of Cerebral Palsy
Orthotic treatment for CP is about managing symptoms and preventing further problems occurring.
Lycra Garments - used on upper or lower limb to control rotation, reduce contractures forming, maintain and provide good posture and position.
Lower limb splinting - when range of motion at a joint, such as the ankle, is limited, a Fixed Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO) can help to normalise walking patterns, while immobilising the joint to maintain range and reduce pain. This type of orthosis will also help promote good hip and knee extension in gait. This will reduce the risk of contractures and reduce energy expenditure.
AFOs can also be jointed at the ankle. These can be used when the ankle has sufficient movement. In some cases, the ankle joint can be sprung to help the foot lift up in swing phase.
Footwear and foot orthotics - footwear can be used to accommodate plastic splinting and improve additional stability. At LOC, we provide a wide range of styles/designs to suit the cosmetic and functional needs of each patient. Footwear may also be adapted with specialist soles to aid normal walking patterns and reduce stresses to lower limbs, as a result of leg length discrepancies. Foot orthotics are used widely in adults with CP. Due to contractures and abnormal muscle patterns it is common to develop high pressures in the forefoot during walking and custom made foot orthotics can offload these painful regions, provide comfort and aid mobility.
Spinal bracing - used to stabilise lumbar and thoracic spine and promote good posture.