As we’ve indicated before, cerebral palsy is a neurological condition which results from damage to a certain area of the brain. When this occurs, a child’s ability to control specific parts of his body is affected, leading to impaired function and mobility. Since the brain is not sending the appropriate signals to parts of his body, a child will try to function in any way that he can and fight the condition that he is in. In turn, this will cause hyper tone, as we have written about before in our previous blogs.
In the case of a child, having hyper tone may cause certain patterns to occur during development. High tone in the trunk, for example, will lead to high tone in his hands, arms and legs, as well as to improper sensorial development. Now, what happens is that it becomes difficult for him to learn to walk properly, perform grabbing motions, or even bend his hands in the first place. For kids with cerebral palsy, this can result in the emergence of certain patterns like forming crab hands without bending them, or performing robot-like movements where the whole body is moved at once. When these methods of moving are left unchecked, they can have severe consequences on a child’s condition, and what he will be able to accomplish.
The effects of splinting and other devices
With this in mind, many people try to address these problems through the use of assistive devices, splints and AFOs (ankle-foot orthoses). Splints and other assistive devices are often used to maintain an appropriate range of movement in a child’s joint. However, it’s important to note that their usage may cause a chain reaction to occur in a child’s condition. When a child has a splint applied, his brain is not taught the appropriate function to go with the movement. Therefore, while his limb may be held in the correct position, his muscles will be stretched passively--that is, without the child’s active participation. This sends a message to the brain that the device is a foreign body, causing his body to try and fight it. As a result, that is why a lot of therapists find that a child’s tone will go up the moment a splint is taken off.
To read the full article, check it out here: http://www.enabledkids.ca/?p=840 If you have any questions, comments or concerns, let us know!
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