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How Paediatric Physiotherapists Can Help Children with Dystonic Cerebral Palsy

or call us today at 0207 884 0374

Cerebral palsy describes a number of neurological conditions, which affect a child’s movement and coordination. Neurological conditions affect the brain and nervous system. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain, which normally occurs before, during or soon after birth.

There are different ways to classify Cerebral Palsy depending on the presentation of your child’s movement disorder. Dystonia is one type of movement disorder where faulty signals from the brain cause muscles to spasm and pull on the body incorrectly.  This forces the body into twisting, repetitive movements or abnormal postures.  Some other types of movement disorders that can be present in children with cerebral palsy are chorea, athetosis, and spasticity.  Some children may present with one of more of these movement presentations and classification occurs depending on the area of the body involved.  For example, “hemiplegia” means one side of the body is affected, “diplegia” commonly refers to a child’s legs being more affected than their arms, and “quadriplegia” means the whole of the child’s body is affected.

Dystonia arises when damage occurs in the basla ganglia, an area of the brain that helps direct motor control and is involved in the circuits to control selective voluntary motor control.  Dystonia can result in many difficulties for you and your child.  It can affect a child’s gross and fine motor skills, result in poor sleep, and affect seating tolerance and cause pain and frustration. It can also affect your ability as a parent to care for your child making washing, dressing, manual handling and everyday activities of daily living difficult.

Each child and family will have different concerns and it is important to discuss this with all professionals including your physiotherapist so that the team around your child can try to improve your child’s function, participation and comfort with all activities of daily living.

Physiotherapists can ensure appropriate referrals are made to other health professionals at the appropriate time such as orthopaedic doctors, orthotists, neurologists and other therapists to ensure your child achieves optimal care and treatment at varying stages of their childhood.

Physiotherapists are also able to provide a full assessment of your child’s gross motor skills and strength and movement difficulties in order to set appropriate treatment plans and goals to improve your child’s function. They can also advise on appropriate management of posture and demonstrate handling techniques. Physiotherapists can also assess children who are ambulant in terms of their dystonic gait patterns and advise regarding orthotic prescriptions, which need to be carefully assessed.

Are you looking for a specialist physio to see your child? Contact us today on 0207 884 0374 or email