Some therapies used to treat people with
cerebral palsy are controversial and may even be
harmful. Talk with your doctor before starting any type of therapy.
Listed below are some examples of alternative therapies
sometimes used by people who have cerebral palsy.
Electrical stimulation. Electrical stimulation
therapies (TES, FES, or NMES) use very low levels of electrical current to
trigger muscle contraction. These treatments are used to relieve symptoms of
joint stiffness and muscle tightness (spasticity) and
may be most helpful for a rapidly growing child. But the effects of electrical
stimulation do not last long. These therapies usually are combined with other
treatments, such as
Patterning technique. Patterning attempts to teach
physical skills to children with cerebral palsy. The movements are taught in
the same order that they are mastered by children developing normally. For
example, most young children crawl before they walk. When applying the
patterning technique to a child with cerebral palsy, he or she is taught to
crawl before walking, regardless of age. More research is needed on this
technique. It has not been proved effective and can be stressful and
frustrating for both children and parents.1
Craniosacral therapy or cranial osteopathy. Craniosacral therapy or cranial osteopathy is a skull
massage technique used on infants or children to reduce the symptoms of
cerebral palsy. So far, no clear evidence supports the effectiveness of this
technique. More research is needed.1
Oxygen therapy or hyperbaric oxygen therapy.Oxygen therapy or
hyperbaric oxygen therapy adds pure oxygen to the
surroundings of a person with cerebral palsy. This treatment has not been shown
to help children with cerebral palsy.2
Special diets and vitamins. Following special diets
and taking large doses of certain vitamins (megavitamin therapy) has not been
shown to increase physical strength and flexibility in people with cerebral
palsy. Some vitamins, such as vitamin A, can be toxic in high doses.
Surgery for drooling. Surgical redirection of saliva
flow requires incisions around the mouth and can cause complications. Most
doctors do not recommend it.
Liptak GS (2005). Complementary and alternative
therapies for cerebral palsy. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 11(2): 156–163.
Johnston MV (2007). Cerebral palsy section of
Encephalopathies. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed., pp. 2494–2496. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.