Orthosis for Cerebral Palsy

Patients with a congenital abnormality Cerebral Palsy often benefit from the assistance of complex orthosis. Theseorthotics go beyond the more common shoe inserts that allow your feet and legs to function at optimal performance. They support compromised joints and weak muscles and can be composed of plastic, metal, carbon fiber and/or leather apparatuses often custom built to affix to the part of the body that needs support.

Cerebral Palsy (CP) patients suffer from neurological impairment that causes challenges with balance, movement and coordination. The effect of skeletal growth that children experience can complicate the problem further if muscles are not able to keep up with the lengthening bones.  Leaving most children suffering from CP with limited mobility. Those afflicted with CP generally fall into two types of muscle control challenges.  The first is the inability to relax muscles or a muscle group and is referred to as spastic CP, 80% of those living with CP suffer from spastic CP.  The “tight muscle groups” that are characteristic of spastic CP result in rigid twitchy movements. Athetoid on the other hand results in involuntary movements.  These involuntary movements can interfere with the ability to speak, eat, reach and grasp.  There is a third very rare type of Cerebral Palsy called ataxic.  Ataxic CP affects balance and depth perception. Children suffering from this unusual type of CP tend to walk with a very wide gait and often have a tremor like what you may see in an elderly person. Some children with CP exhibit a combination of more than one type of CP due to damage to both the pyramidal and extrapyramidal parts of the brain.

A variety of medication, therapy, surgeries and orthosis can be used together to help people with CP gain more muscle control and function. The orthoses created for CP patients have one of two objectives, to either impact the body structure or assist in function.  Many orthoses serve both of these purposes making them capable of correcting and/or preventing deformity, providing additional support, assist in teaching skills and improve gait.

Special braces are commonly used to help stretch contracted “hypertonic” muscles and help compensate for muscle imbalances. Ankel foot orthoses or AFOs that look similar to a plastic boot brace are the most commonly prescribed devices. They restrict abnormal plantar muscle flex by restricting ankle and subtalar motion.  Splints can also be used to control muscle flexion in the hand, wrist and elbow regions. Custom spinal braces can even be created to help children suffering from CP with low muscle tone sit upright, preventing deformity.

Although the results vary dramatically depending on the unique circumstances of the individual some Cerebral Palsypatients have accomplished amazing feats with the assistance of orthosis. In Traverse City, MI Kevin Degen participates in the Wish-A-MIle 300 mile bicycle tour that starts in Traverse City, Michigan and ends in Chelsea Michigan. Kevin has Cerebral Palsy but that hasn’t stopped him from personally raising over a $160,000 for Make-A-Wish and other fundraisers over the years. Rachel Swanson of Stillwater, Michigan has also made significant accomplishments. Rachel’s Cerebral Palsy has made typical verbal communication impossible, and she only has restricted movement in her legs, ankles, wrists and hands.  Rachel can walk with a walker for short distances, but requires an electric wheelchair for longer durations.  Despite these challenges, with her impressive determination and the aid of special orthosis she is an avid downhill skier and regularly participates in 300+ mile fundraising biking events on a custom designed tandem bicycle. These individuals are living proof that an excellent attitude and the right aids can enable you to reach goals beyond anyone’s expectations.

If you are interested in finding out how orthotics can help you or a loved one living with Cerebral Palsy gain more freedom an experienced member of the Teter Orthotics and Prosthetics team is here to help.

Feel free to click the links to find contact information on one of our many locations: Alma, Alpena, Big Rapids, Cadillac, Charlotte, Cheyboygan, Fremont, Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Grayling, Greenville, Houghton Lake, Kalamazoo, Ludington, Manistee, Mt. Pleasant, Muskegon, Petoskey, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Ignace, Traverse City

Additional information pertaining to Cerebral Palsy and resources can be found at United Cerebral Palsy of Michiganlocated at 1209 S. Garfield Avenue in Traverse City, MI, phone 231-932-1660.  You can also find a listing of Michiganstatewide resources at www.cerebralpalsy.org/cerebral-palsy-assistance/michigan/.