What is hemiplegic cerebral palsy?
Hemiplegic CP is a type of cerebral palsy that affects one side of the body. It is usually caused by a stroke, and can affect the leg more than the arm, or vice versa. Frequently one side of the body is weaker, and there may be increased tone (hypertonia) or spasticity on that side.
Hemiplegic CP is usually diagnosed between six and 18 months of age, as a result of asymmetries with movement. No two types of hemiplegic CP are the same, and the effects of it vary depending on the size and location of the brain damage. Sometimes there is significant weakness on one side of the body, or one half of one side of the body. High tone can cause walking on tiptoes, stiffness or muscle contractures, and stiffness in one arm can lead to problems with fine motor skills and daily activities.
BBP stars with hemiplegic CP work super hard on strengthening their weaker side! They choose what activities to carry out during sessions, making sure they pick the most fun games of course! We integrate functional tasks into exercises, making moving the affected limb both achievable and fun!
How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy focuses on strengthening weaker muscles, lengthening shorter muscles, and improving symmetrical movements during gross motor tasks.
Strengthening weaker muscles
We use CIMT for most of our strengthening work! We use evidence to work out the optimum frequencies, reps and sets for maximum strength and function, and we are sure to make all strengthening exercises fun! We have competitions with our superheroes, but nearly always, team BBP get beaten!
Lengthening shorter muscles
Sometimes joints on the affected side become tight and short. This is due to the wrong messages coming from the brain to the muscles and can be made worse by a growth spurt. We focus on active stretches during sessions, and give our stars a positional stretching programme, for sustained stretches during the rest of the time. Stretching the muscles is vital to prevent asymmetrical movement and contractures.
Very often, the weaker side of the body can become neglected. This can lead to differences in posture on right and left sides. For example, the shoulder hanging lower on the affected side, the hips being unequal, or toe walking on one side. By focusing on function and activities, we utilise our distraction skills to get children to work hard and make excellent improvements, without noticing! We are experts at measuring bony alignment and will advise on footwear and orthotics when necessary. Very often, children with hemiplegic CP are given AFOs with heel raises due to high tone, with no leg length difference. This can lead to an unequal pelvis and scoliosis in the future. We make sure we measure all range of movements, and analyse posture every six months to closely monitor for changes.
Function and participation
We will set short-, medium- and long-term specific goals for your superhero. All of these goals will have their favourite activities in mind and will fine-tune their skills to reach those goals!
Contact us to find out how we can help your superhero with hemiplegic CP!