Monday, May 3, 2010

Alternative Treatment for Cerebral Palsy

I give a lot of credit to the ABR method for Charlie's amazing progress. It's not, however, the only treatment we do with him. ABR makes Charlie strong, but it doesn't make him move. To help Charlie learn how to move, we take him to a person who practices Feldenkrais.

The last time we went to ABR they told us that we'd made very few changes below the waist. This is probably because we've never worked below the the waist. Despite that, Charlie has learned to take independent steps. I know that Feldenkrais has been instrumental in that progress.

Feldenkrais was developed to help teach movement. The general idea is that if a person does a movement enough times, that will create a "memory" in the brain for that movement. So with a kid like Charlie our practitioner does lots of movements that isolate each leg and each arm.

Charlie's brain bled the day after birth and in many ways he acted like an itty-bitty stroke victim--he had very little use of his right arm and sometimes seems to forget that it's there. He also has some more classic CP--he used his legs as one unit, and honestly, he wasn't great about noticing them either.

We've been doing Feldenkrais for a little over a year and wow, has it made a difference. Here are a few of the things that I credit our Feldenkrais work with:

  • Improved use of his right hand including trying to use it almost every day--the other day he ate half a sandwich wish his right hand.
  • Moving his legs independent of one another.

  • Taking steps.

  • Improved weight shifting with arms, which has led to independent sitting.

I'm sure there are other things that are a combination of all our efforts, but these are things that very specifically seem to be related to movements Charlie does in Feldenkrais.

We go weekly to see our practitioner, but it can be beneficial to do just a few sessions as well. Charlie just loves Feldenkrais and smiles and claps when we arrive at each session.

If you're interested in finding a Feldenkrais practitioner in your area, here's a link. Anat Baniel is an off-shoot of Feldenkrais that has many exercises specifically tailored for kids with special needs. To look for a practitioner of this method, search here. If you are able to find a certified physical therapist who practices these techniques, then many times insurance will cover it. Score!

Just wanted to tell you guys about something that's working for us.