WellSpan Home

Cerebral Palsy: Controversial Treatments

Topic Overview

Some therapies used to treat people with cerebral palsy are controversial and may even be harmful. Talk with your doctor before starting any type of therapy.

Listed below are some examples of alternative therapies sometimes used by people who have cerebral palsy.

  • Electrical stimulation. Electrical stimulation therapies (TES, FES, or NMES) use very low levels of electrical current to trigger muscle contraction. These treatments are used to relieve symptoms of joint stiffness and muscle tightness (spasticity) and may be most helpful for a rapidly growing child. But the effects of electrical stimulation do not last long. These therapies usually are combined with other treatments, such as physical therapy.
  • Patterning technique. Patterning attempts to teach physical skills to children with cerebral palsy. The movements are taught in the same order that they are mastered by children developing normally. For example, most young children crawl before they walk. When applying the patterning technique to a child with cerebral palsy, he or she is taught to crawl before walking, regardless of age. More research is needed on this technique. It has not been proved effective and can be stressful and frustrating for both children and parents.footnote 1
  • Craniosacral therapy or cranial osteopathy. Craniosacral therapy or cranial osteopathy is a skull massage technique used on infants or children to reduce the symptoms of cerebral palsy. So far, no clear evidence supports the effectiveness of this technique. More research is needed.footnote 1
  • Oxygen therapy or hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy or hyperbaric oxygen therapy adds pure oxygen to the surroundings of a person with cerebral palsy. This treatment has not been shown to help children with cerebral palsy.footnote 2
  • Special diets and vitamins. Following special diets and taking large doses of certain vitamins (megavitamin therapy) has not been shown to increase physical strength and flexibility in people with cerebral palsy. Some vitamins, such as vitamin A, can be toxic in high doses.
  • Surgery for drooling. Surgical redirection of saliva flow requires incisions around the mouth and can cause complications. Most doctors do not recommend it.

References

Citations

  1. Liptak GS (2005). Complementary and alternative therapies for cerebral palsy. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 11(2): 156-163.
  2. Johnston MV (2011). Cerebral palsy. In RM Kleigman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 2061-2069. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerLouis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics

Current as ofMay 4, 2017


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×