Alternative Treatment for Cerebral Palsy

I give a lot of credit to the ABR method for Charlie’s amazing progress. It’s not, however, the only treatment we do with him. ABR makes Charlie strong, but it doesn’t make him move. To help Charlie learn how to move, we take him to a person who practices Feldenkrais.

The last time we went to ABR they told us that we’d made very few changes below the waist. This is probably because we’ve never worked below the the waist. Despite that, Charlie has learned to take independent steps. I know that Feldenkrais has been instrumental in that progress.

Feldenkrais was developed to help teach movement. The general idea is that if a person does a movement enough times, that will create a “memory” in the brain for that movement. So with a kid like Charlie our practitioner does lots of movements that isolate each leg and each arm.

Charlie’s brain bled the day after birth and in many ways he acted like an itty-bitty stroke victim–he had very little use of his right arm and sometimes seems to forget that it’s there. He also has some more classic CP–he used his legs as one unit, and honestly, he wasn’t great about noticing them either.

We’ve been doing Feldenkrais for a little over a year and wow, has it made a difference. Here are a few of the things that I credit our Feldenkrais work with:

  • Improved use of his right hand including trying to use it almost every day–the other day he ate half a sandwich wish his right hand.
  • Moving his legs independent of one another.
  • Taking steps.
  • Improved weight shifting with arms, which has led to independent sitting.

I’m sure there are other things that are a combination of all our efforts, but these are things that very specifically seem to be related to movements Charlie does in Feldenkrais.

We go weekly to see our practitioner, but it can be beneficial to do just a few sessions as well. Charlie just loves Feldenkrais and smiles and claps when we arrive at each session.

If you’re interested in finding a Feldenkrais practitioner in your area, here’s a link. Anat Baniel is an off-shoot of Feldenkrais that has many exercises specifically tailored for kids with special needs. To look for a practitioner of this method, search here. If you are able to find a certified physical therapist who practices these techniques, then many times insurance will cover it. Score!

Just wanted to tell you guys about something that’s working for us.
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Comments

  1. Susan Phariss says:

    Katy, you are doing such a great job! I'm so impressed with what you have found to practice and that you are getting slow, but sure results.

    Another therapy that might interest you is Rhythmic Movement Training. Developed by Swedish psychiatrist Dr. Harald Blomberg (www.HaraldBlomberg.com), RMT has been used successfully to treat cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities for over 25 years in Europe, but it was only introduced into the USA four years ago. You can read more about it on my website, http://www.BrainFitnessStrategies.com.

    Based on the developmental movements infants make in their first year of life, RMT builds new neural pathways, improving communication between different parts of the brain. It is particularly successful improving enunciation and communication skills for CP kids under the age of 12 who have developed some form of speech. The exercises are simple, easy, require no equipment, can be done anywhere, and take only 20 minutes a day. Plus, the kids just love the movements. There are a handful of certified RMT consultants in the US; you can find them at http://www.RhythmicMovement.com.

    I have seen kids with CP gain the ability to relax and use their hands, to get on their hands and knees, sit up without support, and to gain control of muscles that previously were uncontrollable–in the first session. I’ve seen an infant about the same age as Charlie make progress in the first session by becoming aware of his right leg (which was the first time)! By doing the RMT exercises 20 minutes a day for a year or more, the neural pathways can develop and the child may begin to have better social interaction, better communication, and better control over their bodies.

    Charlie was smart choosing you for his mom. He's a very lucky boy! I would bet that with your determination and competency, you will help him completely recover from his CP. Keep up the great work!

  2. Have you guys heard of the Quadriciser?? http://www.quadriciser.com/

    Zach got to try it out last week while we were on production for http://www.exceptionalfamilytv.com/
    and he LOVED it and the improvements were awesome for the amount of time he was on it.

    I love hearing about families that have tried different things for their kiddos and had good results!! Actually knowing someone who has tried it helps so much, Thank you.

  3. Katy, that's so great. I had never heard of this before. Sadie's CP is mild…. but really affects the way she walks/uses leg muscles. I look forward to reading more about this!

    How are you? Keeping busy? It's strange how fast the days go by!

    Thinking of you…

  4. Kara Melissa says:

    We do Feldenkrais/ABM too. For Sebastian, some of the things he has done for the first time have been in a session. I see that the exercises help him to be motivated to do things on his on rather than do what he has been placed in position to do such as in traditional PT. Do you do traditional PT at all or just Feldenkrais and ABR? I would love to hear more about ABR, we are moving to Canada and I have been recommended to check it out. It's great to read about the progress Charlie is making and how much fun he has at the sessions. Sebastian enjoys them too.

  5. Candace says:

    Thanks Katy for sharing Charlie's therapies with us. I am fascinated by all the different kinds you do. We don't have all that cool stuff here so I live vicariously!

  6. Kelli TenHaken says:

    Katy– If you don't mind sharing, I am curious what Charlie could do before you started ABR. Was he holding up his head? Sitting…etc?

  7. Miss Burb says:

    We've been looking into the Feldenkrais and ABM around here… not too many practitioners around these parts (we're in KS).

    I'm trying to start a fundraiser so we can get him into this. I've been really excited about it and I think he could really benefit from it. I've only called one place (out of 2, ones ABM and the other Feldenkrais) and the ABM is $75/session! yikes! but I'm hoping we can get this fundraiser going so he can have something when he starts PreK.

  8. Wahzat Gayle says:

    this is awesome!