Treatment of Cerebral Palsy in Children

Effective treatment of cerebral palsy (CP) is conducted at Herzliya Medical Center in Israel. The staff of the hospital have developed a unique program of diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of children of all ages.

The main objectives of the program are:

  • Restoration of mobility
  • Prevention of secondary complications
  • Improving quality of life

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Pulses originating from the central nervous system regulate voluntary movements and muscle tone. The term "cerebral palsy" means a number of specific syndromes, which affects coordination and movement. It develops due to brain or spinal cord damage or abnormal development in the perinatal period.

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Several possible causes, could result in irreversible damage to the brain and central nervous system, include:

  • Severe infections of mother and fetus
  • Hypoxia
  • Intoxication
  • Childbirth and postnatal trauma
  • Miscarriage
  • The use of drugs and manipulating labor-induction
  • Rhesus (Rh) factor incompatibility (of blood) between mother and child

Clinical Forms of Cerebral Palsy

Depending on the location and type of lesion, numerous forms of CP have been identified:

  • Spastic (pyramidal) - with subtypes monoplegia, diplegia, triplegia and quadriplegia. Spastic cerebral palsy is characterized by spastic paralysis and paresis (weakened) limbs.
  • Non-spastic (extrapyramidal) – with subtypes dyskinetic (involuntary movement) and ataxic (rarest form of CP and affecting full body). Dyskinetic CP is further subdivided into athetoid (hyperkinetic), which results in mixed muscle tone; and dystonic CP. Ataxic - develops in lesions of the cerebellum and, often, is the result of lack of oxygen, as well as birth defects. This form is characterized by severe muscle weakness and incoordination.
  • Mixed CP – children with several types of CP
  • Total body CP – not isolated, affect the entire body

Unlike other organic lesions (hereditary, degenerative or metabolic diseases), cerebral palsy is characterized by its stable and progressive course. However, secondary changes in the musculoskeletal system, such as spasticity and contractures, leading to a gradual deterioration of the functional condition of patients, make it difficult to further treat and rehabilitate. Timely treatment allows specialists the ability to prevent the development of complications in order to restore and preserve motor function, provide the child with normal growth and development.

Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy

Specialist hospital Herzliya Medical Center accepts children of any age, suspected cerebral palsy to final diagnosis, and those previously diagnosed for further treatment and rehabilitation. Diagnosis of cerebral palsy involves a number of studies, among which the following are particularly important:

  • Specialists of the medical clinic will learn about the patient’s medical history and the results of previously conducted instrumental and laboratory tests
  • Consultation and examination by pediatric neurologist - Dr. Yoram Simon Sandhausen
  • Evaluation of the clinical condition of the child, the presence of characteristic symptoms
  • Assessment of psychological and physical development, as well as the nutritional status of the child
  • Laboratory studies with suspected metabolic disorders or genetic diseases (differential diagnosis of cerebral palsy)
  • Instrumental research is required to confirm diagnosis, including: Firstly ultrasound of the brain (children up to a year - before the closing of the fontanelle), MRI (if any suspicious findings are detected in the ultrasound or if the child is over a year) and EEG (in children with suspected seizures)
  • Survey Orthopedics conducted by Dr. Naum Simanovsky. Determination of indications for surgical treatment of cerebral palsy.
  • Assessing the possibility of rehabilitation in Israel for cerebral palsy

Conservative Treatment of Cerebral Palsy

Experienced treatment of cerebral palsy that began at an early age can help prevent severe disability and difficulties in social adaptation of the child. Comprehensive treatment of cerebral palsy in Israel at HMC aim to limit complications and improve movement, this includes:

  • Physical therapy - using modern apparatus and techniques to prevent the development of contractures, structural changes of the joints, muscle strains, bone and ligament apparatus. Complex procedures also include the use of external fixation, hydrotherapy and therapeutic massage
  • Drug treatment - aimed at reducing pain and reducing elevated tone of skeletal muscles
  • Diet therapy - in order to prevent exhaustion in children with swallowing dysfunction

Unfortunately, cerebral palsy has no cure; however, the quality of life of patients and their psychomotor development depends on a professional approach from the moment of diagnosis of the disease

Surgical Treatment of Cerebral Palsy

The indications for surgical treatment of cerebral palsy in Israel are secondary changes of the musculoskeletal system, resulting from a long and uncompensated disorder of muscle tone. Experts on an individual basis determine the need for surgery after careful examination. At HMC, surgical intervention includes:

  • Surgical treatment of contractures (limited mobility) of large joints - the knee, hip and ankle
  • Surgeries intervention of muscle strain in the tendons. Changing the setting of the tendons allow restored movement due to muscle strain
  • Fixing large joints especially when the child is in significant pain
  • The reconstruction of joints, including after previous surgical repair attempts that were unsuccessful
  • Bone surgery - surgical correction of deformities
  • The implantation of a baclofen pump

Cerebral Palsy Rehabilitation at HMC

Following the surgery, as well as an intensive course of conservative therapy, patients at HMC are able to begin effective rehabilitation in specialized units. Rehabilitation of cerebral palsy in Israel includes:

  • Treatments aimed at further improvement of motor functions, strengthening muscles and assistive aids
  • Treatment of motor coordination and fine motor skill development
  • Treatment and prevention of pain, limiting motor function
  • Restoring functions, such as swallowing and speech
  • Psychological care for children, adolescents and parents

A vast and open-access of doctors with extensive clinical experience at Herzliya Medical Center will help to evaluate the pre-rehabilitation potential of each patient and develop a customized treatment program that ensures the greatest possible effect, aiming to improve a child’s quality of life as much as possible, and beyond.

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