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Kids With Cerebral Palsy May Benefit From Intense Therapy

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Today, Krindl and her mother, Judy Gillespie, run the Midwest Centre for Conductive Education in Glenview, Ill., outside of Chicago. The conductive educators in their school were trained in Hungary, where the program was developed in 1945.

Debra Gaebler, MD, a pediatric physiatrist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, tells WebMD that she has referred a number of children to Krindl's center. The sessions she has observed are "very rote, very rhythmic, very pleasing. It's translated into the first person, so the child is taking responsibility for his or her own actions. It's very functionally oriented. Some kids come back toilet trained. It has a more practical application than some other ways we do therapy."

For certain children, she says, "it is very good, but I don't think it's for every kid. I've referred many people to it who don't think it's right for their child. The child has to be motivated by the group. You can't have a child who is not able to follow direction or is so emotionally or medically fragile that they need a lot of support."

The goal is "integrate children into a normal classroom," says Anita Keresztury, a Hungarian-trained conductor who teaches at Krindl's school. "As soon as they are able to move or sit independently, they can be in normal schools. Just because they cannot walk a long distance does not mean they have to be in a special class."

Whether they are involved in "potty time," "circle time," or lunchtime, kids are expected to try to walk into the room. "They can use a walker, but they have to take some steps. Of course, most of them need help, but they have to try. ... I don't think everybody will walk and we don't promise anything, but they have to keep trying," Keresztury tells WebMD.

Children are also expected to try sitting up on their own; special chairs come equipped with ladders or side handles to provide support. At lunch, children must eat with a spoon or drink from a cup -- not use a bottle, as do many children with cerebral palsy. All during the day, as each child makes small successes, the other kids offer lots of approval. There's also "lots of singing, all day long," says Keresztury. "It's very motivational for them."

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