Skip to content

Brain & Nervous System Health Center

Font Size

Cerebral Palsy: Controversial Treatments - Topic Overview

Some therapies used to treat people with cerebral palsy are controversial and may even be harmful. Talk with your doctor before starting any type of therapy.

Listed below are some examples of alternative therapies sometimes used by people who have cerebral palsy.

Recommended Related to Brain & Nervous System

Cerebral Palsy Key to Josh Blue's Act

Many a naysayer told Josh Blue that he couldn't be a comedian. But look who's laughing now. The 28-year-old funny man beat out the competition on the fourth season of NBC's Last Comic Standing, even though, as he puts it, "there are many white male comedians, but not too many with cerebral palsy." Blue's disability is a big part of his act. "Any joke I tell comes from the perspective of someone with cerebral palsy. I can't say things from the point of view of a young black woman," he deadpans...

Read the Cerebral Palsy Key to Josh Blue's Act article > >

  • Electrical stimulation. Electrical stimulation therapies (TES, FES, or NMES) use very low levels of electrical current to trigger muscle contraction. These treatments are used to relieve symptoms of joint stiffness and muscle tightness (spasticity) and may be most helpful for a rapidly growing child. But the effects of electrical stimulation do not last long. These therapies usually are combined with other treatments, such as physical therapy.
  • Patterning technique. Patterning attempts to teach physical skills to children with cerebral palsy. The movements are taught in the same order that they are mastered by children developing normally. For example, most young children crawl before they walk. When applying the patterning technique to a child with cerebral palsy, he or she is taught to crawl before walking, regardless of age. More research is needed on this technique. It has not been proved effective and can be stressful and frustrating for both children and parents.1
  • Craniosacral therapy or cranial osteopathy. Craniosacral therapy or cranial osteopathy is a skull massage technique used on infants or children to reduce the symptoms of cerebral palsy. So far, no clear evidence supports the effectiveness of this technique. More research is needed.1
  • Oxygen therapy or hyperbaric oxygen therapy.Oxygen therapy or hyperbaric oxygen therapy adds pure oxygen to the surroundings of a person with cerebral palsy. This treatment has not been shown to help children with cerebral palsy.2
  • Special diets and vitamins. Following special diets and taking large doses of certain vitamins (megavitamin therapy) has not been shown to increase physical strength and flexibility in people with cerebral palsy. Some vitamins, such as vitamin A, can be toxic in high doses.
  • Surgery for drooling. Surgical redirection of saliva flow requires incisions around the mouth and can cause complications. Most doctors do not recommend it.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 16, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Cerebral Palsy: Controversial Treatments Topics

    Today on WebMD

    nerve damage
    Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
    senior woman with lost expression
    Know the early warning signs.
     
    woman in art gallery
    Tips to stay smart, sharp, and focused.
    medical marijuana plant
    What is it used for?
     
    senior man
    Article
    boy hits soccer ball with head
    Slideshow
     
    Graphic of active brain
    Article
    Vaccine and needle
    VIDEO
     
    brain illustration stroke
    Slideshow
    human brain
    Article
     
    most common stroke symptoms
    Article
    Graphic of number filled head and dna double helix
    Quiz