Surgery for Spasticity and Other Abnormalities
Several types of surgery can help people with cerebral palsy. But since most surgeries are not reversible, it’s important to discuss with a doctor not only how a specific surgery may offer benefits, but also the possible long-term risks.
Orthopedic surgery involves correcting spinal abnormalities or lengthening contracted muscles and tendons to reduce pain and improve walking and overall movement. However, tendon-lengthening can result in long-term weakness in some people. (3)
People with severe spasticity or chronic pain who have exhausted all other treatment options may consider selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). This surgery cuts overactivated nerves at the base of the spine, in a limb, or near the bladder. Severing nerves can cause loss of feeling, numbness, or persistent discomfort in the body areas once served by the severed nerves. (1)
Eye surgery can correct problems such as cataracts or overactive eye muscles that prevent a person from controlling her eye movements.
Surgery to remove certain sections of the brain may help reduce seizures. Another option is vagal nerve stimulation, in which a device implanted in the brain works directly on the nerves to reduce seizures.
Assistive Devices for Communicating, Mobility, Seeing, and Hearing
A variety of tools can help people with cerebral palsy meet their needs. Those who struggle with communication may rely on computers, voice synthesizers, picture books, and specialized software. (4)
Orthotic devices help a person stand, balance, or move more easily. They include braces or splints that improve a person’s ability to walk or sit. If orthotics do not fully meet a person’s needs, they may use other devices for getting around, such as wheelchairs, walkers, or powered scooters.
People with vision problems may rely on glasses, magnifying devices, audiobooks, and books or a computer with large print or fonts. Hearing aids and amplifiers for phones assist with hearing problems.