Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most frequent cause of disability in children in the United States. This brain dysfunction affects the child’s ability to coordinate bodily movements. Muscle tone, posture and movement are permanently affected and the condition does not change throughout life.
The conventional medical approach
Treatment mostly focuses on attaining improvements in walking, reflexes and muscle rigidity. Hydrotherapy and deep massage is helpful here. Standard care may include medications to relax muscles and ease pain. Physical and occupational therapy is employed to build strength, mobility, flexibility, and balance. Speech therapy may be needed. Braces and rolling walkers are commonly used in more impacted situations. Benefits from standard therapies, while welcome, are limited. It also has been noted that the maximum benefits come when therapies are begun close to the time of diagnosis. Progress, it must be made clear, is slow in treating CP.
Acupuncture can help
Acupuncture has been used successfully in coordination with standard therapies. The Mayo Clinic reports that the addition of acupuncture often enhances the beneficial effects of standard rehabilitative treatments. In the very young or for those who are hypersensitive to the sensations of acupuncture needles, acupressure (the therapy from which acupuncture developed) often is employed. Acupuncture treatments usually show their effects over the course of 6 months to a year of 2 or more treatments a week.
The National Institutes of Health, in conjunction with the University of Arizona, reported that Acupuncture can help reduce muscle hypertonicity in children, relieving muscle tension, pain and discomfort. Because acupuncture treatment of Cerebral Palsy is relatively new in the United States, most studies have been reported out of China. A 2010 report of 35 studies involving 3,286 children with Cerebral Palsy showed that Acupuncture helped improve daily functioning and speech. A 2013 study of 200 children with CP compared conventional rehabilitative training against this same therapy combined with Acupuncture. The results tested for increases in motor function, improvements in development and improved anatomical structures in the brain as measured by CT (CAT Scan) and MRI neuroimaging. It was found that Acupuncture improved by over 50% the measured effectiveness of conventional rehabilitative training.