Managing a Child with Cerebral Palsy with Homoeopathy Dr SANOOP.K.K, B.H.M.S, M.s.c, ND,DNHE
The Physical appearance of a child with cerebral palsy can lead the people to have a negative image about her. She might be seen as a person capable of no independent action and needing help with most of the activities of daily living. However, if the training and treatment are begun early, the child can show tremendous improvement.
Depending upon the types and the extent of disabilities you would need to
· Help the child learn to move around independently or with some suitable mechanical support.
· Enable the child to look after herself – for example, be able to go to the toilet, wear cloths, eat and drink.
· Train her to communicate
· Help her to be as normal as possible in her appearance.
· Assist the child in developing relationships with others.
· Educate her, in keeping with the level of her intellectual functioning.
Of Course, you would not be able to manage all this by yourself. For example, to help the child overcome the speech defects, you would need to associate with a speech therapist. Difficulties in locomotion would need to be handled by a physiotherapist. The child may need to be fitted with applications or may have to undergo surgery to enable her to walk. Homoeopathic Medicines would be needed to control fits.
HOMOEOPATHIC MANAGEMENT: It helps the child in better coordination of muscle of extremities and improves the mental retardation if present.
Early Training and Stimulation of the Child at Home
While seeking the help of professionals for speech and mobility training is important, do not forget the role of the parents. They are ones who are with the child for most of the day. Their attitude will have a crucial role in determining how far the child is able to overcome limitation of her disability.
Help the parents to understand cerebral palsy – they may not have seen a child with this condition before. Explain to them how it affects mobility or intellectual functioning or speech. They have to be trained is how to help the child became independent in her activities. In fact, before the child is old enough to join preschool, it is the parents who would have a major role in training her.
The early training and stimulation at home should concentrate n increasing muscle strength and dexterity of different body parts. The idea is to make the child as self sufficient as possible. Some of the areas in which the parents can train the child are described below.
1.Teaching the child to swallow
Drooling saliva and having difficulty in swallowing are common problems that affect children with cerebral palsy.
Explain to the parents to let the child feel the movements in neck while they themselves swallow. The child can be encouraged to swallow by stroking both sides of her throat from the chin to the base of the neck or pressing the midbase of the neck lightly with the index finger.
Encourage the child to close the lips by stretching the child’s lips outwards the ear. This will help to control the drooling of the saliva.
2.Helping the child to eat
When feeding, it is better to give the child slightly bland food as sweet foods tend to increase saliva and drooling. Start with thicker liquids, such as soups and milk. Which are easier to swallow. Side by side given the child mashed foods. When she can manage to eat these, teach her to bite off and chew solid/crisp food. Help her to keep the head straight during eating and use the tongue to control the food.
Encourage the child to eat on her own. If the degree of physical handicap is severe, the child will feel tremendous difficulty in this. Explain to the parents that they should not get impatient and begin feeding the child themselves. Explain to them that trying is the only way the child will be able to overcome the handicap.
3.Using the Toilet
Due to poor control over their movements, children with cerebral palsy will find it difficult to sit alone on the latrine or pot. In such case, children need physical supports, such as a base, which can be placed around the pot for the child to support herself while sitting.
4.Co-ordinating Hand movements
Ask the parents to give the child opportunities to grasp, hold, mould and squeeze objects. This will help to develop the muscles of the wrist and fingers. In working with the child, it is important to be patient and to take spilling, dropping etc.. in one’s stride.
Help the child to pick up the things that have dropped , rather than scold her to do these tasks for her, s the latter two actions will lead to greater dependency.
Help the parents to understand that it will take quite some time for the child to manage these tasks on her own. Encouraging the child where she, shows any improvement is important. Being able to coordinate the arm and leg movements for these activities, which we take for granted, is no small achievement for a child cerebral palsy.
While the above were some atreas whereyou can explain to the parents how to train the child, help them to understand that their child will benefit if they show her to a person who is specifically trained to help the child improve her motor coordination, such a person is known as a physiotherapist. Help the parents contact the Primary Health Centre (PHC) /health worker/hospital to find out about physiotheraphy.
Besides exercises to improve movements and coordination between different parts of the body, the child may also need training in speech. If this is affected. For this, they would need to get in touch with a speech therapist. If the parents are taking the child to a speech therapist or physiotherapist, then they must carry out the exercise with the child at home. Maintaining a regularity in the exercise is necessary only then will the child benefit from them.
If the intellectual functioning of the child with cerebral palsy is below average, then training the child to acquire basic skills would proceed differently. For not only will the child have difficulty in physical movement, but may also find it difficult to understand instructions, remember and pay attention. You have read about these aspects in the preceding unit on children with mental disability. In that case, you and the parents would need to keep the principals explained in the earlier unit in mind as well.
Working with the Child in the Centre
What about the education of child with cerebral palsy? What sort of activities can you organize for such a child in your early childhood care and education centre? While planning for the child’s activities at the preschool centre you would need to keep some factors in mind.
As you have read, a child with cerebral palsy may have severe motor, handicap, yet she might be above average in intellectual functioning. Similarly she may have mild physical problems but moderate mental retardation. The Intellectual functioning is not related to the level of physical limitation. Therefore, the type of activities you plan for the child will have to be in keeping with her levels of both intellectual and physical functioning. See what the child is able to do and build upon that. The goals that you would keep for this child would be different from what you would expect of the rest of the children at your centre.
If the child does not suffer from mental retardation, then she can participate in the same activities her peers – of course, within the limitation of the physical handicap. The extent of the child’s physical handicap would affect the type of activities you can plan for her. A child with severe physical problems will not to participate in outdoor activities with other children. But remember that she would like to see the others playing. Do not isolate her just because she cannot herself move up to the swing. You can carry her there and help her to enjoy the swinging motion of the swing. Be patient if the child takes longer to complete her paining ot is not able to sing the rhyme in tune with others.
What are saying is that it is important to realize that a child with cerebral palsy can attend a regular school along with other children. The educator will have to be careful in giving extra attention and help to the child, simplify the curriculum for her if required modify the activities so that she can also participate, and help her and other children to relate to each other. Sensitivity patience and close observation of the child while working with her in the centre would help you to understand the child better. Specialists in physiotherapy and speech therapy would be able to give help in specific areas. A regular health check up by a pediatrician would help to monitor her growth. Only if the child’s mental and physical handicap are such that she cannot benefit from attending a regular pre-school, should she be put in a special school.
ENCOURGE THE CHILD WITH CEREVRAL PALSY TO DO THINGS BY HERSELF, EVEN IF THIS TAKES LONGER. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY SHE WILL IMPROVE.