Therapy for Cerebral Palsy: The Anat Baniel Method

Anat Baniel’s Workshop for Children with Special Needs & Cerebral Palsy: Therapy for Cerebral Palsy, Brain Re-Mapping, and Improved Movement

Anat Baniel is the creator of the “neuromovement approach” to help children with motor disorders such as cerebral palsy be able to move. The foundation of Baniel’s therapy is neuroplasticity, which is the idea that the brain and nervous system can change in response to experience. The neuromovement approach is aimed at helping children with motor disorders develop new brain connections that will help them have improved motor function and be able to move more easily.

This summer, Anat Baniel is offering a five-day workshop for parents and their special needs child. The intensive experiential workshop, called “NeuroMovement for Parent and Child with Special Needs 2015” will take place June 5th at 10:00 a.m. – June 9th at 5:00 p.m. The workshop is located at the Anat Baniel Method Center in Rafael, California.

Other NeuroMovement Workshops include:

  • Denver, CO: NeuroMovement for Children with Special Needs Workshop; May 17 @ 9:00 am – 6:00 pm; Denver, CO
  • San Jose, CA: NeuroMovement for Whole Body Fitness & Vitality Workshop 2015; June 28 @ 9:00 am – 6:00 pm; Santa Clara, CA
  • Calgary, Canada: NeuroMovement for Children with Special Needs Workshop 2015; July 18 @ 9:00 am – 6:00 pm; Calgary, Alberta Canada
  • Cincinnati, OH: NeuroMovement for Children with Special Needs Workshop 2015; August 1 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm; Cincinnati, OH

Parents and caregivers can sign up on the Anat Baniel website or call 415-472-6622.

How Can Neuromovement Serve as a Form of Therapy for Cerebral Palsy? 

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that cause a child to have problems with balance, coordination and movement. It is caused by an injury to the motor center of the brain while the brain is still developing. This means a child can develop cerebral palsy up until age 3, although signs of CP often aren’t noticed until a child is 4 or 5 years of age. Many children with cerebral palsy have a difficult time moving because their muscles don’t work together due to a problem with brain-to-nerve-to-muscle communication.

Neuroplasticity means the brain and nervous system can change structurally and functionally in response to experience. Plasticity involves cellular changes and re-mapping of the cerebral cortex. The brains of babies and children are extremely plastic (changeable); brain patterns associated with voluntary action are continuously forming.

Baniel’s method of neuromovement centers on the concept of neuroplasticity. As such, neuromovement involves performing exercises that focus on getting a child to be hyper-aware of movements being performed by the muscles affected by cerebral palsy. For example, when Baniel was working with one little girl who had spastic cerebral palsy, she realized that the child essentially thought she only had one leg. In the child’s brain, her legs were mapped as one because they had always only moved as if they were one leg. The little girl had never perceived her 2 legs as being different. When a person does not perceive a difference, the difference ceases to exist. This young girl’s brain did not have the information she needed to recognize each leg as a separate body part, which means she could not control the distinct movements of each leg. Until the child’s brain recognized that each of her legs could be moved independently, no amount of physical therapy would help.

Baniel got a marker and tapped on the girl’s right knee. She asked the child if she wanted a picture of a dog or cat and Baniel very slowly drew a dog on the child’s knee. While drawing, Baniel described everything she was doing. The little girl stared at the marker and felt all the movements as it moved around, creating the image of the dog. When Baniel finished, she picked up the child’s left knee and exclaimed that there was no dog on that knee. The little girl then realized that there was another leg. Baniel performed other maneurver’s to help her experience the difference between her right and left legs. After a few weeks more weeks of physical therapy, the young girl was able to stand up for the very first time.

Physical Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Physical therapy is aimed at promoting motor and developmental skills. Daily range of motion exercises are important to prevent or delay contractures that are caused by spasticity (tightness) and to maintain the mobility of joints and soft tissues. Stretching exercises are performed to increase range of motion. Progressive resistance exercises should be taught in order to increase strength. The use of age-appropriate play and of adaptive toys and games based on the desired exercises are important in order to make the therapy fun and get the child’s full cooperation. Strengthening knee extensor muscles helps to improve crouching and stride length. Postural and motor control training is important and should follow the developmental sequence of normal children; head and neck control should be achieved, if possible, before advancing to lower body (trunk) control.

Children and their parents often enjoy hippotherapy (horseback-riding therapy) to help improve the child’s muscle tone, range of motion, strength, coordination, and balance. Hippotherapy offers many social, cognitive, physical, and emotional benefits.

The use of Kinesio taping (elastic therapeutic tape) can help reeducate muscles for stretching and strengthening, and aquatic therapy can also be beneficial for strengthening. Vibration and short-term use of heat and cold over the child’s tendons may help to decrease spasticity. These treatments, however, only decrease spasticity briefly and should be used in conjunction with range of motion and stretching exercises.

Electrical stimulation of weakened muscles is usually tolerated well in older children and can help strengthen muscles and maintain muscle size. In a child with weak dorsiflexors (muscles in the lower leg that act on the foot) that are causing foot drop or tripping, for example, electrical stimulation to the shin muscle could be beneficial.

Physical therapy is crucial when a child has had surgery to help correct spasticity; it helps the child obtain maximum benefit from surgery. A groundbreaking surgery for spastic cerebral palsy is called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). When SDR is performed, nerves affected by cerebral palsy – dysfunctional nerves – are selected and cut. Eliminating the problematic nerves can help a child with cerebral palsy have better movement and even learn to walk.

Award-Winning Birth Injury Attorneys Helping Families Afford Therapy for Cerebral Palsy and Other Resources

If you are seeking the help of a cerebral palsy lawyer, it is very important to choose a lawyer and firm that focus solely on birth injury cases. Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is a national birth injury law firm that has been helping children with birth injuries for almost 3 decades.

Birth Injury and Cerebral Palsy Attorneys in MichiganBirth injury lawyer Jesse Reiter, president of ABC Law Centers, has been focusing solely on birth injury cases for over 28 years, and most of his cases involve hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy. Partners Jesse Reiter and Rebecca Walsh are currently recognized as being two of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report 2015, which also recognized ABC Law Centers as one of the best medical malpractice law firms in the nation. The lawyers at ABC Law Centers have won numerous awards for their advocacy of children and are members of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group (BTLG) and the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ).

If your child was diagnosed with a birth injury, such as cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), the award winning birth injury lawyers at ABC Law Centers can help. We have helped children throughout the country obtain compensation for lifelong treatment, therapy and a secure future, and we give personal attention to each child and family we represent. Our nationally recognized birth injury firm has 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 Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers at 888-419-2229 for a free case evaluation. Our firm’s award winning lawyers are available 24 / 7 to speak with you.

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