SUIT UP: WALKING WITH CEREBRAL PALSY
BACKGROUND: According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, cerebral palsy refers to a neurological disorder that appears in infancy or early childhood and permanently affects body movement and muscle coordination. It is caused by abnormalities in parts of the brain that control muscle movements. Most children with cerebral palsy are born with it, although it may not be detected until years later. Some signs of the condition include a lack of muscle coordination, stiff or tight muscles, walking with one foot or leg dragging, walking on the toes, a crouched gait and muscle tone that is too stiff or too "floppy."
STANDARD TREATMENTS: There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatment will often help a child function better. Standard treatments for cerebral palsy may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, drugs (to control seizures, muscle spasms and pain), surgery (to correct abnormalities), and braces.
THERASUIT: The TheraSuit is a special device that is worn to help kids with cerebral palsy and other disorders. It consists of bungees that keep the body aligned properly and apply pressure. The pressure helps patients feel their body better. The suit retrains the central nervous system, improves balance and coordination, provides stabilization, supports weak muscles, and normalizes gait. It originated in Russia and was brought to the United States by Izabela and Richard Koscielny. The Koscielnys have a child with cerebral palsy and are also physical therapists. They created the TheraSuit Method, which is based on an intensive and specific exercise program. Typically, kids with cerebral palsy only partake in therapy sessions for an hour or less, one to three times a week. In the intense program, kids typically undergo therapy with the suit and other equipment for up to four hours a day, five times a week. The sessions usually last for three weeks at a time.
RESULTS: In a pilot study conducted at the Pediatric Fitness Center in Keego Harbor, MI, researchers studied 20 children with cerebral palsy who used the TheraSuit Method. The study found 92 percent of participants experienced functional improvements. Other improvements were also made in coordination, strength, range of motion, balance and movement control. Ninety percent of the participants learned to roll independently, and 75 percent learned to sit without assistance. More than 30 percent learned to walk with assistive devices, and 21 percent gained the ability to walk independently.
SUIT HELPS OTHER DISORDERS: The TheraSuit can help kids with disorders other than cerebral palsy. It can be used for those who suffer from developmental delays, traumatic brain injuries, stroke, spasticity, low muscle tone and ataxia.
For More Information, Contact:
Ariana Watson, OT
Innovative Children's Therapy, Inc.
Winter Park, FL
Copyright 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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