Cerebral palsy in adults: Rehabilitation therapies

Each person with cerebral palsy is unique. Symptoms may be very mild or very severe; they may affect only one side of the body or both; they may be more pronounced in the legs or involve the arms as well.

Healthline defines cerebral palsy as a group of nerve disorders that can cause coordination failures and related movement difficulties. Medline also mentions problems with learning, hearing, vision, and thinking.

The most common form of cerebral palsy is spastic where disturbances in muscle tone produce stiff, clumsy movements that are difficult to control. Its most common symptoms are:

  • Weak or tense muscles, with difficulty stretching
  • Inability to walk normally: knees that cross or touch, legs "scissor" and/or walk on toes
  • stiff joints

There is also athetotic cerebral palsy which is expressed through slow and sinuous involuntary movements, mainly affecting the face, hands and feet. In these cases, the ability to speak, eat and walk can be greatly affected.

Finally, there is also mixed cerebral palsy which combines different symptoms.

Each person with cerebral palsy is unique. Symptoms can be very mild or very severe; They may affect only one side of the body or both; They may be more pronounced in the legs or also involve the arms.

 

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The origin of the problem

Cerebral palsy appears due to brain injuries that occurred during pregnancy or in the first 5 years of life. In some cases, as Medline explains , these lesions have to do with low oxygen levels in the affected brain areas. But it can also be due to cases that occurred in early childhood, of:

  • Brain infections such as encephalitis or meningitis
  • Head injuries (for example, during childbirth)
  • Untreated jaundice

Adults with Cerebral Palsy: How Rehabilitation Helps

Regardless of its cause, cerebral palsy accompanies people forever, although symptoms can change over time, which undoubtedly constitutes a challenge for both those affected and their caregivers and loved ones.

Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive disorder, which means that it does not get worse over time, and for this reason, rehabilitation can play a key role in improving the quality of life of people affected by this neuronal disorder. Especially in the case of adults.

According to Cerebral Palsy a US organization dedicated to education about cerebral palsy, "adulthood can mark the first moment in which an individual can walk on their own or achieve a long-awaited personal goal. There are many adults with cerebral palsy who can lead independent lives; how independent it is varies on a case-by-case basis. Adults with less severe types of cerebral palsy may be able to live on their own and hold a full-time job."

But, to improve the quality of life of adults with cerebral palsy, rehabilitation is key. This was recognized in an interview for the television program Cara a Cara by Alfredo Ureta, who said: "I don't get anything out of looking for work if I don't worry about my rehabilitation." In the same program, Dr. Raúl Smith, physiatrist and chief medical officer of TrainFES Center, highlighted how today patients like Alfredo can have access to cutting-edge technologies, which can even incorporate artificial intelligence.

According to Cerebral Palsy , physical therapy not only relieves symptoms such as muscle stiffness and general lack of mobility, but it can also prevent future problems. In his opinion, in cerebral palsy patients, this type of therapy can improve:

  • coordination and balance
  • Strength and flexibility
  • The posture
  • pain tolerance

The TrainFES methodology for cerebral palsy

Among the new technologies for cerebral palsy rehabilitation, Functional Electrostimulation (FES) stands out , offered by TrainFES.

cerebral palsy in adults

This technology uses devices that help the patient while walking, correcting the muscles involved. This is specifically WalkFES, a neuroprosthesis that is especially helpful for patients with difficulties controlling their feet, along with strengthening the affected muscles.

It is based on an electro stimulator that is programmed from an application inserted in a mobile phone and a sensor that adjusts to the shoes and allows the muscles to be stimulated at the exact moment it is needed. By making adjustments in real time, it improves gait in a way that is proven to be more efficient than traditional orthoses.

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