Brain remapping therapy helps a girl with cerebral palsy

The Help Cerebral Palsy Kids Corporation is located in Waterford, Michigan.  This corporation was created to benefit diseases, disorders and medical disciplines that focus on birth injuriesCerebral palsy is a group of disorders that causes a child to struggle with movement, coordination, balance and posture.  It is caused by an injury to the developing brain.  Thus, a child can get cerebral palsy until approximately age 3; however, the condition sometimes isn’t diagnosed until a child is 4 or 5 years old.

There are many different treatments and therapies that have been shown to improve the symptoms of cerebral palsy.  Aggressive physical therapy is extremely helpful, and surgery, such as selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), is helping some children take their first steps.

CEREBRAL PALSY TREATMENT THAT FOCUSES ON BRAIN RE-MAPPING

There is another type of treatment that is centered on getting a child to be hyper-aware of movements being performed by muscles affected by cerebral palsy.  This treatment involves the therapist helping the child have an extreme awareness of the affected muscle’s movement.  The therapy induces the child to be very knowledgeable about what she is doing, sensing, thinking and experiencing while the targeted body part is moving.  The treatment is supposed to cause the formation of new connections in the child’s brain that help the child use the targeted muscle group.

This treatment was first advocated by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, an award-winning neuroscientist and physicist.  Anat Baniel studied under Feldenkrais, and she calls her approach the neuromovement approach.  A little girl helped by Baniel can help illustrate this treatment.

Kassi has cerebral palsy and was seen for the first time at age 3.  At this time, Kassi had spasticity in her arms, legs and abdominal area, which means the muscles in these areas were very tight.  Kassi could barely move these muscles.  When Kassi was placed in a sitting position, she would have to use a great amount of effort just to try and not fall over.

After many months of regular physical therapy, Kassi was able to move a lot better, and she had pretty good control of her arms, hands and back muscles.  She could easily sit up and maintain herself in a sitting position.  One area that was not improving, however, was Kassi’s leg movement.  Regardless of the various types of physical therapy used, Kassi’s legs remained very tight and they looked as if they were held together all the time.  It seemed as if the little girl’s legs were constantly tied together with an invisible piece of string.  When Baniel moved Kassi’s legs very slowly and gently, she was able to separate them and move them independently.  When Kassi tried to move her legs by herself, however, they would become spastic.

Baniel figured out that in Kassi’s brain, she had one leg, not two.  In Kassi’s brain, her legs were mapped as one because they always moved as if they were one leg.  Kassi had never thought of her legs as two legs – she had always perceived them as one and had never perceived them as being different.  When a person does not perceive a difference, the difference does not exist.  Kassi’s brain did not have the information that was needed to recognize each leg as a separate body part.  Because of this, Kassi could not control the separate movements of each leg.  Until her brain recognized that each leg could be moved by itself, no amount of physical therapy would help.

Baniel decided to draw on Kassi’s legs to get her to sense the difference.  She took out a marker, tapped on Kassi’s right knee, and asked the little girl if she could draw a picture of a dog or cat.  Kassi picked a dog, and Baniel very slowly drew a picture of a dog.  While creating the image of the dog, Baniel described everything she was doing.  Kassi stared at her knee, feeling the movements of the marker while watching it move around.  Baniel then put the marker down and lifted Kassi’s left knee.  She jokingly exclaimed that there was no dog or cat on the left knee.  At that instant, Baniel could tell that Kassi had a realization that there was another leg.  For the first time, Kassi understood that there were two legs and not one.  Baniel performed other maneuvers to help Kassi experience the differences between her right and left legs.  Kassi was able to stand up for the very first time a few weeks later.

BANIEL’S 6 STEPS FOR BRAIN RE-MAPPING

Based on her research and experience with Kassi and numerous other patients, Baniel has listed the six most important ways to enhance a child’s ability to perceive differences and be hyper-aware of specific muscles.  The goal is to get the child’s brain to focus on and sense the movement.

These are the 6 steps that Baniel lists on her website and writes about in her books.

1.      Know that your child has the most miraculous learning “machine” in the universe–her brain–no matter her current limitations.

2.      Always start with your child where he is. Do not try to make him do what he should, because if he could, he would.

3.      Make sure your child pays attention to what she feels as she moves. This drives incredibly rapid formation of new connections and patterns in the brain.

4.      Go slow. Fast your child can only do what he already knows and for the child with cerebral palsy, it makes it almost impossible to change for the better.

5.      Reduce the force with which your child moves. The greater the effort, the less she can perceive differences.

6.      Be playful and have your child do things “wrong” in at least three different ways creating differences on purpose.

There are numerous therapies and treatments for children with cerebral palsy, and many of these greatly complement each other.  Baniel’s method would not work without intense physical therapy, and surgeries such as SDR have much better results when aggressive physical therapy is performed post-surgery.  Indeed, SDR has helped children with spastic cerebral palsy obtain incredible results.

SPASTIC CEREBRAL PALSY

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type and it affects 70 – 90% of all children who have cerebral palsy.  In spastic cerebral palsy, the muscles do not coordinate in pairs the way they are supposed to.  Instead of opposing muscles working together to create smooth movement, muscle groups become active at the same time, which prevents coordinated movement.  The muscles in children with spastic cerebral palsy are constantly spastic, and the child has stiff, jerky movements.

The major difference between spastic diplegia (spastic cerebral palsy that primarily affects the lower body) and a normal walking pattern is the “scissor gait,” which is when a child’s knees appear to cross like scissors.

There are many conditions that can occur during or near the time of delivery that, if not properly managed, can cause cerebral palsy.  Most often, these conditions involve oxygen deprivation in the baby.  Mismanaged conditions that can deprive a baby of oxygen include placental abruption, uterine rupture, umbilical cord prolapse, nuchal cord, brain bleeds caused by forceps or vacuum extractor use, and failure to recognize fetal distress on the fetal heart rate monitor. Improperly treated neonatal hypoglycemia or jaundice (abnormally high bilirubin), or in infection in the mother that travels to the baby at birth can also cause cerebral palsy. When a baby is showing signs of distress, it means she is being deprived of oxygen and must be delivered very quickly.  Most of the time, a C-section delivery is the safest way to deliver a baby who is in distress.

HELP FOR CHILDREN IN WATERFORD WHO HAVE CEREBRAL PALSY

The attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have been helping children with cerebral palsy in Waterford and throughout the nation for over two decades.  Jesse Reiter, the firm’s co-founder, has been focusing on birth injury cases his entire 25+ year career, and most of Jesse’s cases involve helping children who have cerebral palsy.  When he takes a case, he spends a lot of time getting to know the child and family he is helping so that he can fully understand the child’s needs.  Jesse has won many awards for his advocacy of children, and he is currently recognized as being one of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report 2014, as well as one of the 10 Best Attorneys in Michigan by Super Lawyers magazine. Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is also recognized as being one of the best law firms in the country by U.S. News and World Report 2014.

Cerebral palsy is a difficult area of law to pursue due to the complex nature of the disorder and the medical records that support it. The nationally recognized attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have decades of experience with cerebral palsy cases. To find out if you have a case, contact our firm to speak with an experienced attorney.  We handle cases in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Washington, D.C. and throughout the nation.  We have numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success, and no fees are ever paid to our firm until we win your case.  Email or call us at 888-419-2229.

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