Speech Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

The term cerebral palsy refers to a spectrum of motor impairments resulting from brain malformations or injuries during a child’s development, typically most associated with a traumatic or difficult birth injury sustained by a neonate patient during delivery.

Neurological Damages Suspect as the Cause of Cerebral Palsy

The injury or damage occurs during, before or immediately following birth stemming from what medical experts believe is partially to blame, which is the introduction of hypoxia or anoxia to the brains of newborns during the birth process, ultimately causing permanent neurological deficits in the child in the future. These symptoms may occur later as a child with cerebral palsy ages, with some cases with patients not exhibiting any cerebral palsy symptomology as late as three years old before becoming sufficiently symptomatic to warrant a formal medical diagnosis.

One of the most obvious symptoms that cerebral palsy patients will face is the gradual deterioration of the patient’s physical health, which given the sedentary lifestyle required by most cerebral palsy patients, is only further exacerbated in the complications it may causes.

However, Treatment Programs for Cerebral Palsy Patients Are Immediately Available.

Most treatment for the disorder begins in childhood and continues through adolescence while more severe cases may require lifelong treatment and therapies. The disease chiefly affects muscle growth and development, which can significantly inhibit the patient’s ability to speak and comprehend language, but speech therapies administered by qualified pathologist often gives patients the guidance needed to develop their speaking skills.

Upon receiving speech therapy treatments, patients are better prepared to overcome developmental delays and pursue learning and educational opportunities with minimal limitation. Patients learn to implement grammar and word usage correctly, utilize increasing complex syntactical structures and eliminate pronunciation issues. In situations where cerebral palsy patients are non-verbal, pathologists aim to teach the patient communication through other effective means and will work with caregivers to decrease the instance of miscommunication.

Method for Diagnosing Speech Impediments and Identifying Key Areas for Improvement

To begin the assessment process, a speech pathologist examines the patient’s medical history and converses with parents and past caregivers regarding the patient’s overall physical and cognitive ability.

  • The pathologist performs physical examinations of the cerebral palsy patient’s oral cavity utilizing specialized and standard medical instruments. The medical professional will attempt to identify directly any physical irregularities causing speech difficulties or inability. In the event the pathologist locates a physical obstruction or obstacle, treatment may involve surgical removal or modification of the physical obstruction.
  • Because hearing ability significantly and directly impacts language development, speech pathologists will perform a series of audiology-based diagnostic test to pinpoint any possible hearing limitations. If the patient regularly misinterprets sound, he or she may be referred to an otolaryngologist or audiologist.
  • Pathologists conduct articulation assessments to understand the patient’s natural interpretation and pronunciation of the language. Dropping sounds or syllables indicates the patient either has difficulty in comprehension or articulation of language. The pathologist will hone in on commonly mispronounced phonetics like the “r” and “s” sounds.
  • To measure the cerebral palsy patient’s ability to converse and respond in an unstructured situation, pathologists perform fluency and language assessments where patients are asked to participate in a carefully observed conversation.
  • Because brain injuries and malformations cause cerebral palsy, speech centers in the brain may be negatively affected due to developmental and cognitive issues. Through cognitive assessments, pathologists determine how these questions affect the patient’s speech and comprehension ability.

Pathologists will classify the speech impairment as either a receptive disorder, where the patient’s issue lies with processing and understanding language or an expressive disorder, where the patient experiences significant difficulty constructing coherent spoken thoughts, utilizing socially appropriate language and accessing a broad vocabulary.

Common Strategies for Treating Speech Impairments Related to Cerebral Palsy

  • Speech therapy often utilizes language intervention activities in conjunction with objects, books or photos to build stronger associations between words and their meanings. The pathologist demonstrates proper pronunciation and word usage in repeated exercises to guide the patient towards a deeper understanding of language.
  • Articulation focused therapies include tongue exercises, drills, and breathing exercises to aid patients in developing accurate pronunciation techniques and abilities. These customized therapies cater to the patient’s unique needs, and therapists work closely with the patient to demonstrate proper speaking methods.
  • To target patients will difficult breathing or performing finer oral functions, pathologists will implement oral motor therapy practices including lip, jaw and tongue exercises. The therapy plan seeks to strengthen oral muscles and will work with various food textures and temperatures to foster the patient’s natural physical awareness during swallowing, chewing and eating.

Moreover, the costs of attending and obtaining the all requisite physical therapy necessary to properly care for a cerebral palsy patient should exclusively be the responsibility of parents. A number of legal and medical resources are available for patients and their families to review to determine their legal and medical rights of their child suffering from cerebral palsy.

 

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0012083/

http://www.waisman.wisc.edu/phonology/pubs/PUB47.pdf

http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1275&context=gs_rp

 

 

 

 

 

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