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Cerebral Palsy Therapy

Whether your child was a preemie or born full term once the doctors actually say the words Cerebral Palsy it feels as if the whole world is starting to come crashing down on you. Parents desperately look to their doctors to make it all better, unfortunately once there has been damage to the brain doctors provide life saving measures but have very little to offer in the way of treatment or recovery. Therapists do their best to help our children, however with very large case loads they are not able to devote the same time and intensity for each child as we do here at Ability Camp.
There are now many alternative therapies for parents to choose from however our combination of Conductive Education and Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy coupled with having the consistency that can be provided by having families stay on site and support each other and their children is unique and one of the most successful programs for children with Cerebral Palsy. Ability Camp helps to teach children to become more independent not by merely providing therapy but by teaching children and their parents how to change their daily lifestyle. Learning and improving becomes part of everything that is done each day. As good as any therapy is, no one can fix your child. Raising a child with Cerebral Palsy is an enormous undertaking, however, if parents can be trained to approach each day in a productive way and consistently keep their expectations high then children will continue to improve.
Most parents have tried a multitude of traditional, alternative therapies and treatments and although it is a struggle for any family to leave home for five weeks, to find the finances, to miss time away from work it takes time to help children.
Over the past 14 years families have seen their children make progress in a five week period and as a result many of them have found a way to come back again, some many times over. They would not go to these extraordinary lengths if they were not getting results!

Physical Therapy for Cerebral Palsy
A physical therapist specializes in improving the development of the large muscles of the body, such as those in the legs, arms and abdomen (gross motor skills). Physical therapists help children with cerebral palsy learn better ways to move and balance. They may help children with cerebral palsy learn to walk, use a wheelchair, stand by themselves, or go up and down stairs safely. Physical therapists will also work on fun skills such as running, kicking and throwing, or learning to ride a bike. Physical therapy usually begins in the first few years of life, or soon after the diagnosis of cerebral palsy is made. These therapists use specific sets of exercises to work toward the prevention of musculoskeletal complications. An example of this is preventing the weakening or deterioration of muscles that can result from lack of use. Also, physical therapy will help avoid contractures, in which muscles become fixed in a rigid, abnormal position. Physical therapy will help prevent musculoskeletal problems, as well as helping your child perform common everyday activities.

Speech and Language Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Speech / Language Therapist: A speech and language therapist helps develop better control of the jaw and mouth muscles, which can improve speech and language skills and eating abilities of children with cerebral palsy. They also help develop creative communication methods for those who can not speak. A speech and language therapist will work with your child on communication skills. This means talking, using sign language, or using a communication aid. Children who are able to talk may work with a speech therapist on making their speech clearer, or on building their language skills by learning new words, learning to speak in sentences, or improving their listening skills. Children who can not talk may learn sign language, or how to use special equipment such as a computer that actually talks for them.

Brain Therapy
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals. Some primitive animals such as jellyfish and starfish have a decentralized nervous system without a brain, while sponges lack any nervous system at all. In vertebrates the brain is located in the head, protected by the skull and close to the primary sensory apparatus of vision, hearing, balance, taste, and smell. Brains can be extremely complex. The cerebral cortex of the human brain contains roughly 15–33 billion neurons, perhaps more, depending on gender and age, linked with up to 10,000 synaptic connections each. Each cubic millimeter of cerebral cortex contains roughly one billion synapses. These neurons communicate with one another by means of long protoplasmic fibers called axons, which carry trains of signal pulses called action potentials to distant parts of the brain or body and target them to specific recipient cells. The brain controls the other organ systems of the body, either by activating muscles or by causing secretion of chemicals such as hormones and neurotransmitters. This centralized control allows rapid and coordinated ... 

New Treatments for Cerebral Palsy

Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy, the condition can be managed through a variety of therapies to help the child reach their maximum potential in growth and development. Even though there is still not a lot known about the origin and  since its first documentation in 1861 by Dr. William Little, new treatments for cerebral palsy continue to break new ground and offer hope to the patients and families of this condition.
One of the new treatments for cerebral palsy is selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). SDR is the only surgical procedure that can provide permanent reduction of spasticity in cerebral palsy. During the operation, the neurosurgeon divides each of the dorsal roots in the spine into 3-5 rootlets and stimulates each root electronically. By examining the electrical responses from muscles in the lower extremities, they can identify the rootlets that cause spasticity. The abnormal rootlets are cut, leaving the normal rootlets in tact. This reduces messages to the muscles, resulting in better balance of activities of nerve cells in the spinal cord, and reducing spasticity.
The advantages of SDR over other new treatments of cerebral palsy can be significant. There is a reduced risk of spinal deformities in the later years of life, and reduced hip flexor spasticity by sectioning the first lumbar dorsal root. It also boasts less intense back pain than other surgical procedures and earlier resumption of vigorous physical therapy.
Of all the new treatments for cerebral palsy, SDR has undergone more intense scientific scrutiny than any other surgical treatment. SDR is a long and complicated neurosurgical procedure and complications such as paralysis of the legs and bladder, impotence, and sensory loss may occur.
Another one of the new treatments for cerebral palsy is hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBO). HBO therapy is a medical treatment that uses the administration of 100% oxygen at controlled pressure for a time frame between 60 to 90 minutes. Although usually used to treat burns and difficult healing wounds, it is now realized as a new treatment for cerebral palsy. HBO therapy facilitates healing in these conditions by increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood by up to 2000%, depending on the treatment depth. This in turn drastically increases the amount of oxygen at the cellular level.
With brain trauma, some brain cells become dormant due to lack of oxygen, usually caused by reduced blood flow related to swelling. HBO therapy has been shown to reduce swelling of brain tissue by constricting blood vessels. By the increase of the amount of oxygen at the cellular level, it is believed that dormant, oxygen starved brain cells are revived.
When treating cerebral palsy children, HBO treatment is administered for one hour and one or two treatments per day, for five or six days a week. Depending on each case, the total number of treatments will vary. It is quite common for 40 treatments to be administered during the first phase of treatment. After the first phase, the medical team involved in each case can resolve question of further HBO therapy.
Studies have proven that HBO therapy can dramatically improve the condition of a cerebral palsy patient. A study in Brazil revealed a 50% reduction in spasticity in 94% of a 224 patient study. Improvements have also been seen with vision, hearing, and speech; however, improvement will vary from patient to patient. Minor ear discomfort is the most common complaint related to HBO therapy. Similar to an airline passenger, the patient’s ears have to adjust to a change in pressure.
New treatments for cerebral palsy are being constantly tested and refined. With the help of a medical group you can determine if one of the new treatments of cerebral palsy can help your child. After all, the goal is achieving independence for your child and yourself..

Stroke Therapy
A Stroke damages the brain and many of the pathways or neural connections to the muscles have been destroyed or damaged and many will never return. Our brain may no longer recognize our body's position in space let alone how to take control of it, however the brain has a great deal of plasticity and redundancy and it is possible to help restore some of the lost function by training other portions of the brain to take over. It is not an easy process and takes a great deal of time and dedication, however, it is possible to make improvement!
Stroke survivors are often told in traditional therapy, treatment or rehabilitation that "anything you haven't gotten back in the first 90 days you might never get back!"
The stroke therapy offered at Ability Camp combines Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to help stimulate the injured brain and an intensive and focused therapeutic exercise program called Conductive Education to help repair or form new connections from the brain to the muscles. With the combination of these two therapies we have been able to help people make improvements even 15 years after their stroke occurred.
So even if you aren't getting results with other types of therapy, treatment or rehabilitation it is not too late and there is still hope using our combined Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Conductive Education programs.

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
The late Dr. Neubauer was one of the pioneers who began working with hyperbaric oxygen therapy for stroke rehabilitation. He performed SPECT scans and found that his patients had areas of the brain that were severely damaged however the immediately surrounding areas showed low levels of activity. These same areas, "The Recoverable Brain" showed increased levels of activity following a series of 

Hyperbaric sessions.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) involves having our clients sit in our large hyperbaric chamber. We slowly increase the surrounding pressure and the sensation is similar to what you experience in an aircraft while it is descending. You may feel a slight pressure building in your ears which is generally easily cleared by swallowing, yawning etc. There should be no pain or discomfort!
Inside the chamber each client wears a clear hood (Plastic Bubble) and is given 100% Oxygen to breathe. As the pressure is slowly increased we are physically squeezing the molecules of Oxygen closer. In this concentrated form the red blood cells in our blood are able to carry higher levels of oxygen throughout our body more effectively than it can in any other way. Even the plasma, the fluid that carries the red blood cells can also absorb and carry Oxygen into very fine vessels or partially blocked vessels that the large red blood cells may not be able to pass.
What does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy do?
The late Dr. Neubauer was one of the pioneers of using Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy as a treatment for cerebral palsy in children. through the use of SPECT scans he found that children who suffer from Cerebral Palsy would have areas of the brain that were showing low levels of activity "the recoverable brain" and once he repeated these scans following a series of Hyperbaric sessions he found that there was now an increased level of activity in these same areas.
At normal atmospheric pressure with 20.9% Oxygen healthy lungs fully saturate our blood however if you supply Oxygen for breathing and increase the ambient pressure you physically squeeze the molecules closer together and allow the lungs and bloodstream to carry a concentrated Oxygen supply throughout the body and most importantly to the brain and the rest of the central nervous system.

How long does it take?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can be taken on its own over a three week period doing a one hour session, twice per day for 20 days. Thus receiving 40 one hour sessions actually each session takes approximately 1.5 hours but we only charge for one hour.
Whether you child was a preemie with complications or born full term all of our children's Conductive Education programs are five weeks in length. Helping children improve takes a great deal of time and effort, unfortunately, progress does not come easily. Some families will have just one parent attend while others may trade out part way through the class. Some families have also utilized grandparents or other family members to stay with their children.
In the Mom and Tots class (ages 7 months to 3 years) as well as our 3 to 6 year old classes children spend 5 hours each day Monday through Friday in the class while children in our 7 to 14 year old classes spend 6 hours per day.
When taking a combination of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and a Conductive Education program then a one hour (1.5 hrs) Hyperbaric session will follow the Conductive Education class and 2, one hour sessions on Saturday and Sunday. In this way 40 sessions will be spread over the entire five weeks.
What kind of results can I expect from this?
Even with the best treatment and other alternative therapies children with Cerebral Palsy tend to progress very slowly and many of them will reach a plateau and seem to not make any more progress. There are no instant fixes and our programs cannot work miracles however children can improve through guided and well planned activities designed to not only challenge a child but also to teach them to become more independent. The traditional approach of one on one therapy can actually have the inadvertent effect of creating dependence on adult help and assistance.
Here we create an environment where children are encouraged and taught to do things for themselves and learn to have the confidence to try. Many parents have been shocked and surprised to hear their child say, "I CAN DO IT" when they are trying to help them do something.
It is almost impossible to create this kind of confidence, teach the necessary skills required to problem solve and find a way to do the necessary tasks of daily living without having the time and structured activities we perform here on a daily basis.
Some children may learn to achieve better head control, learn to roll over, learn to sit without being strapped into a wheelchair, work on potty training etc. Children can also improve weight bearing, standing and also practice walking skills with only as much assistance as required.
A general series of progression for a child (although not all in one five week period) would be to start by weight bearing and holding a ladder, progressing to taking steps while holding the ladder. Once a child is reasonably confident they may progress to walking and pushing a walker in front of them. Every time a child becomes good at a skill it is time to take them to the next more difficult level. The next step may be walking with two quad canes (4 footed canes). After quad canes, two single canes and finally walking independently. Each step builds on the skills learned previously and in this way children continue to learn and improve.
Many children have been able to make one of the above progressions in a five week setting. Not only do help children improve but we also teach them ways of doing things that prepare for continued future development. In traditional therapy many children are taught to use forearm crutches, and although they may become very good at using these their weight is too far forward and this can actually become a dead end and hinder further progression.
Not all children will be capable of reaching independent walking however it is important to teach each child to do everything that they are capable of. In North America there is an abundance of equipment to make our children's life more convenient such as wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs, however if you can teach a child to climb stairs their whole world opens up as they can now visit a friend and climb the three stairs to get in the front door.
Children's physical development is only one aspect of our programs we also help children develop emotionally as well as socially. By working in small groups children learn to take turns, to interact with other children, form bonds of friendship and at times competition as they push and encourage each other. As one child learns to master a new skill it can help motivate the others to try and master the same skill.
For a child that was born as a preemie and suffered complications such as a brain injury or a child that has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy they leave here moved well beyond their plateau and are on their way to continued improvement. Amidst the cheers and admiration of their friends from the class they are going to see results and gain a new sense of pride and accomplishment.
Parents will also be taught how to adapt their daily home routine and how consistency in everyday activities will have a much larger impact on their child's life than the few hours spent on therapy will ever be able to accomplish. Every moment of every day can be a learning opportunity and when parents are thoroughly trained and really understand how to help they feel empowered.
There is no time for insecurity and doubt, parents need to have a plan and have the knowledge to follow through. we can no longer just wait for things to get better we need to take charge of the situation.

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