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What are some non-traditional medical treatments used to treat cerebral palsy?

Valiant medical research into the causes and treatment for patients with cerebral palsy has yielded relatively minor results for families coping with a child who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  Impatient with the development of new cerebral palsy treatments, many patients and families have turned their attention to non-traditional medical treatments.

Below are common cerebral palsy treatments as suggested from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.



  • Therapeutic (subthreshold) electrical stimulation, also called neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NES), pulses electricity into the motor nerves to stimulate contraction in selective muscle groups.  Many studies have demonstrated that NES appears to increase range of motion and muscular strength.
  • Threshold electrical stimulation, which involves the application of electrical stimulation at an intensity too low to stimulate muscle contraction, is a controversial therapy.  Studies have not been able to demonstrate its effectiveness or any significant improvement with its use.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy.  Some children have cerebral palsy as the result of brain damage from oxygen deprivation.  Proponents of hyperbaric oxygen therapy propose that the brain tissue surrounding the damaged area can be “awakened” by forcing high concentrations of oxygen into the body under greater than atmospheric pressure.

A recent study compared a group of children who received no hyperbaric treatment to a group that received 40 treatments over 8 weeks.  On every measure of function (gross motor, cognitive, communication, and memory) at the end of 2 months of treatment and after a further 3 months of follow up, the two groups were identical in outcome.  There was no added benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Sources: From National Institute of Neuorological Disorders and Stroke

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