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We have seven wonderful Moroccan therapists.
Children with even the mildest case of cerebral palsy often tend to be slow in developing verbal communication. The goal of speech therapy is to improve a child’s ability to communicate their thoughts and ideas to the world through activities that encourage speech and the development of the small muscles of the mouth and face.
Since many of the children at our center have difficulty swallowing and can often inhale their food, setting them up for lung infections – speech therapists work to improve the functioning of the mouth, jaw and throat muscles that can interfere with not only speech, but also breathing and swallowing. Mothers are taught how to position their child and feeding techniques to optimize swallowing.
Speech therapists frequently help the family to establish normal feeding patterns for the child, as there is a correlation between good feeding patterns and the eventual possibility of developing normal speech. The correlation exists because the muscles used for feeding are the same muscles for speaking.
Working to improve a child’s oral motor skills by using exercises, helps to train the brain to pronounce – as well as understand individual words, sounds, numbers and gestures. These skills are vitally important in order for them to interact with others, develop relationships, learn and work. Speech therapy improves their quality of life and increases a child’s potential for independence. ST is just one element of our therapy program which provides a multi-experiential environment. (see “Physical Therapy” and “Occupational Therapy”)
physical therapy can start in the first few years of the child’s life. Physical therapy (PT) uses exercises to achieve three goals:
Physical therapy for cerebral palsy patients consists of activities and education to improve flexibility, strength, mobility and function. A physical therapist also designs and modifies adaptive equipment. Although physical therapy takes place in our center, it should carry on in the home through an exercise program. Emphasis is placed on teaching the mothers and family members how to continue therapy at home. This ongoing daily home program is critical for physical therapy to be successful.
A physical therapy program should consist of a number of exercises that include stretching, strengthening, and positioning. To stretch the muscles, the arms and legs must be moved in ways that produce a slow, steady pull on the muscles to keep them loose. Because of the increased muscle tone of the cerebral palsy patient, they tend to have generally tight muscles. Therefore, it is extremely important to perform daily stretches to keep the arms and legs limber, allowing the child to continue to move and function.
Strengthening exercises work specific muscle groups to enable them to support the body better and increase function. We put much of our effort into improving a child’s active movements and teaching them normal movement patterns.
Contractures are a common and serious problem of CP. It is a chronic shortening of a muscle due to the abnormal tone and weakness of the muscle. It limits movement of a joint. Physical therapy along with positioning and/or braces, can prevent this complication by stretching spastic muscles.
We use positioning which requires the body to be placed in a specific position to attain long stretches. Some positions help to minimize unwanted tone and can be done in a variety of ways. Bracing, pillows, knee immobilizers, stroller or wheelchair inserts and sitting recommendations are all part of positioning techniques used in physical therapy for cerebral palsy patients.
Physical therapy is intent on improving motor development. CP children often have increased tone and retain reflexes which impair normal movement. Techniques and positions are used to decrease their tone and to reverse these reflexes. For example, if a CP child normally keeps his/her arms flexed, the therapist will purposefully position the child in a way that extends them.
Motor skills can be learned. Physical therapists help children learn better ways to move and balance, as well as learn to walk, use their wheelchair, stand up without assistance, or go up and down stairs safely. CP children need new encounters with their environment in order to grow and learn.
Physical therapy for cerebral palsy patients does not cure spasticity but can improve their limitations. It is an important step towards an independent lifestyle. If therapy only happens in the therapy center, the disability will remain unchanged. Changing the level of disability is the ultimate goal of physical therapy for cerebral palsy.
After completing an assessment an occupational therapist may suggest strengthening activities to improve performance, specialized equipment, or modifications to the environment (home and community) to assist the child.
Examples of equipment include a chair or wheelchair that has been adapted for optimal positioning of the child so that they can interact with their environment, or making a splint to position the child’s hand.Examples of changing the environment are the use of a ramp or rearranging furniture so that the child is able to move about more independently.
OT seeks to help children and their families achieve their goals of increased independence in daily life.