Children with Cerebral Palsy require special care to stay healthy and happy. Pain is one of the most common conditions that children with Cerebral Palsy undergo, and much of the pain comes from muscle spasms that inhibit normal movement.
Understanding Cerebral Palsy And Muscle Spasms
Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and motor skills caused by damage or abnormalities in the developing brain. Children may have Cerebral Palsy from birth or acquire it later on. The disorder commonly manifests in learning and speech difficulties, motor disabilities, lack of balance, and seizures.
A common consequence of Cerebral Palsy is overly toned muscles, which lead to spasms when they contract. This leads to difficulty in movement and pain that is often severe. Spastic muscles do not act as the child wants them to and may lead to jerky movements or even an inability to move. Different children may exhibit different degrees of spasticity, from only a few muscles being affected to the entire body. The spasms can be highly uncomfortable and painful and even lead to difficulties in breathing or swallowing.
Consequences of Muscle Spasms
For a child with Cerebral Palsy, chronic pain due to muscle spasms means a difficult and limited way of living. Even simple tasks like getting dressed, eating, or going to bed become painful while playing outside like other children is practically impossible. This often leads to depression, anxiety, and frustration as they are unable to do the things they want to do. Moreover, as several physical therapy activities might also cause pain, children may resist attending therapy, which can hamper the progress of treatment. Besides, chronic pain can impact a child psychologically and cause them to lash out and become more aggressive with family members or peers. They could also withdraw entirely from all social activities and relationships as they are unable to enjoy them the way other people can.
How to Manage Muscle Spasms in Your Child With Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy manifests differently in each child and there is no one-size-fits-all remedy. Your doctor may prescribe one or more types of pain medication to help ease the symptoms of muscle spasms. Overall, however, you will need to work with a healthcare team — including the pediatrician, dietitian, speech therapist, physical therapist, and others — to develop the best Cerebral Palsy treatment plan for your child. It is natural to feel helpless when you see your child in chronic pain owing to spasticity. Here is how you can help to alleviate the pain and improve the quality of life for your child.
Ensure regular physical therapy: While therapy itself may cause additional pain for your child, it is crucial for improving range of motion, helping with joint alignment, and enabling better natural movement that will reduce pain over time. Accompany your child to each session and soothe them whenever they express discomfort or pain.
Position your child properly in bed: Correct positioning is crucial to helping your child with Cerebral Palsy sleep well. Experiment with different positions to find one that causes the least pain, or invest in special equipment if necessary.
Improve their mental health: Being in chronic pain can make it hard for children to stay positive. Help them feel better by sparking their interest in activities you can do together without physical exertion, such as listening to music or watching a movie. If necessary, seek the help of a psychological counselor to help them process their anxiety, frustration, or depression.
Help them be active: Even if your child can’t run and play like their peers, keeping them active is essential. Help them walk around and move to the best of their ability, and introduce them to new games they might like. The more active they are, the healthier they will be, and they might even experience fewer muscle spasms.
Keep listening: As the parent, you must always keep your eyes and ears open for signs that your child is in pain. Look for small cues, such as changes in facial expression, and ask your child exactly where they are feeling the pain.
It can be hard for you as a parent to watch your child suffer muscle spasms. However, they can be alleviated and ultimately cured with the best Cerebral Palsy treatment. With the help of the medical team and a lot of patience and love, you can ensure that your child experiences less pain and leads as fulfilling a life as possible.