How Massage Can Benefit Those Living with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is an encompassing term representing a group of conditions characterized by various motor disorders: movement and postural dysfunction and/or muscle coordination challenges.

Although incurable, there are treatment options available. Because cerebral palsy (CP) conditions manifest uniquely with each child, early detection and intervention is key to the aid of the child. Some of those treatment options include surgery to correct physical abnormalities, braces and other walking aid devices, computer technology to aid in communication abilities and complementary therapies including physical, occupational, speech and, lastly, massage.

In a recently published article entitled, “Working with Clients Who Have Cerebral Palsy,” author and expert, Ruth Werner, writes:


“There is no question that massage therapy can have a valuable role in improving the quality of life of a person with CP. Parents write of their satisfaction when their child is able to sleep through the night, when postural distortions unbind, when breathing eases, when faces light up with joy because the massage therapist has arrived for a session.”

Werner writes suggests that, if physical therapy is used to stretch and strengthen skeletal muscles, massage will also be a safe choice. The only caution is that people with very severe CP may not be able to communicate their wants or concerns clearly.

“If a massage therapist works with a client who cannot speak, other modes of communication, including nonverbal signals, become especially important. It is the responsibility of the massage therapist to make sure that his or her work is welcome and freely accepted at all times,” she writes.

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