What is cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy (CP) is the name given to describe a group of neurological conditions that affect a child's ability to co-ordinate movement, as well as a child's ability to see, think, learn and hear. Children that have cerebral palsy will find muscle control and movement difficult to control as they develop.
Many children with cerebral palsy may find walking and balance difficult. Podiatry can help many children with cerebral palsy improve their gait (the way they walk) with the provision of foot orthoses (shoe inserts) and exercises. Podiatry can also help relieve any discomfort caused by thickened or 'calloused' skin that may occur due to high pressure areas caused by an altered gait.
What causes cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy occurs as the result of either injury to the brain or abnormalities of the brain, which happen either before, during or quickly after birth. Typically the damage to the brain associated with cerebral palsy occurs during the baby's development in the womb, however, it is also possible for it to occur later, up until the age of three when the brain is developing. The cause of injury and damage to the brain associated with cerebral palsy include:
- The brain developing abnormally
- Bleeding in the brain
- Premature birth
- A difficult birth
Cerebral palsy that occurs in a child between the ages of one and three may be caused by, for example:
- A head injury
- Severe jaundice
- Infection of the brain (e.g. meningitis)
How can podiatry help a child with cerebral palsy?
There are many different forms of cerebral palsy, diplegia is a form that predominantly affects the legs. Children with diplegia will find it difficult to balance and co-ordinate their legs due to short leg muscles, which then has an effect on the joints and limits the amount of movement available. Due to the shortened leg muscles these children adopt a 'tip toe' walk. When a child walks with an altered gait too much pressure may be placed on to certain areas of the foot, producing calloused areas of skin that can be uncomfortable. Calloused skin can be removed painlessly in clinic by one of our podiatrists, providing instant comfort.
Podiatric treatment using a combination of the following may be suitable for children with cerebral palsy, the aim being to improve their balance and gait:
- Strengthening exercises
- Stretching exercises
What should I do if my child has cerebral palsy?
If your child has cerebral palsy and you feel that they may benefit from podiatry intervention, book an appointment with one of our podiatrists here at Manchester Podiatry for a full assessment in order to establish whether or not podiatric intervention would be suitable.