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Researchers try new cerebral palsy treatment protocol

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health are closely monitoring an innovative treatment approach for children with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is believed to be the result of brain injury, often caused during birth. It affects motor functioning and/or posture, making it difficult for patients to perform many of the daily functions other able-bodied individuals take for granted. It can also affect individuals more prominently on one side.

In this case, researchers put the dominant arms and legs of 135 children with cerebral palsy in casts for up to six hours each day, five days out of the week. During those sessions, researchers provide therapy to the children, perhaps consisting of games and other activities.

Researchers are hoping that each child’s brain will adapt, forcing the weaker -- and more afflicted -- limbs to improve. Although certain brain tissue may be damaged, researchers are hoping to observe alternate neural pathways or solutions emerge. Ultimately, researchers hope that the patients will develop equal bilateral use of their limbs.

Disabled children whose families do not exceed an income ceiling may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income. This need-based federal program helps disabled children and their families with payments that may go a long way towards providing additional therapies and medications. Although SSI applicants do not need to provide a work history, even applications from children with cerebral palsy might require the submission of substantial evidence. A disability attorney might provide assistance in that process, from the initial application through any subsequent appeals.

Source:, “Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute to study cerebral palsy,” Laurence Hammack, Aug. 15, 2013

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