The vast majority of children with cerebral palsy have a hard time with mobility. The reason for this is because the disorder affects the brain’s control center responsible for movement.
Thankfully, there are many assistive technologies on the market that help manage and even improve these issues for most CP children.
Children with mild CP may only need leg braces, while children with more severe forms of the condition may need a specially designed wheelchair.
Let's go through various types of assistive devices and for whom they are designed.
- Orthotic devices
They sound complicated, but they're just external braces. Depending on what the child's needs are, orthotics are used to improve and strengthen mobility in:
Feet, ankles, hips, knees, and the spine.
For people who would be able to walk on their own, but need a little extra balance and support, orthotics may be a great option.
- Walking sticks and Canes
Children with milder forms of cerebral palsy can benefit greatly with just a plain old cane. Just make sure to get one that can adjust to the child's height!
Crutches are great tools for children who can walk on their own but need just a little bit of extra help.
There are two types of crutches commonly found on the market – We usually see crutches that go under the arm. For children with CP, it's more common for them to use elbow crutches because they’re not meant to carry all the user’s weight.
When children have the strength to walk on their own, they just lack the balance and posture; walkers can be the way to go. There are many different types of walkers, depending on which area needs support.
For the most part, they all look like ordinary walkers, but each type of walker is designed in a customized way to help develop specific muscles.
- Wheelchairs and scooters
Wheelchairs are very common for children who can’t walk on their own.
Which Wheelchair Should I Buy?
There are two basic types of wheelchairs on the market:
While manual wheelchairs are obviously much more cost-effective, they require upper body strength to use them.
For those who do not have the necessary strength, or a manual wheelchair just isn’t practical, a motorized wheelchair or scooter may be the best option.
There are MANY different shapes and sizes of these wheelchairs. Before making such a big purchase, parents should investigate which one will be best for their child.
Some basic considerations are:
- Will it be used Indoor or outdoor?
- How much it will be used?
- How will it be transported?
- How wide and high does the seat need to be?
- How should the cushions and foot and armrests be positioned?
- What type of tires are best?
- What type of battery?
- And last, but not least, cost!
How do you know which one is best for your child?
For the most part, a doctor should properly evaluate a child with CP before deciding which device is best for them.
Medical professionals who can help with this are:
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Orthopedic surgeons
Sources and Additional Reading: