Cerebral Palsy

Willy Cherry, PT Function & Action Physical Therapy
Clovis, California

DESCRIPTION

There are many forms of CP. It can cause problems with posture, gait, muscle tone and the coordination of movement. CP is the most common childhood physical disability. 2 out of 3 people with CP can walk independently or with an assisted device. Three out of 4 are able to verbally communicate. If the vocal control centers are affected often an intelligent person suffers the inability to communicate because of motor control issues. CP is not a progressive disorder but there is no known cure.

Causes of CP are sometimes clear:
– Bacterial and viral infections
– Brain hemorrhages
– Oxygen deficits to the brain before, during or after birth
– Prenatal exposure to drugs, alcohol or other toxic substances

Then there are the unexplained cases that having no clear cause. This group makes up 20-50 percent of all cases.

FASCIAL COUNTERSTRAIN TREATMENT

Terra falls into that unexplained category. She has spasticity that mainly affects her lower extremities. With stress her whole body can be affected, effectively immobilizing her. I have worked with her for over 20 years with mobility and flexibility emphasis along with finding appropriate assistive devices. Her posture was dominated by a very forward head with rounded shoulders. Her heels never touched the ground due to tightness in the posterior calf structures. Walking was a controlled fall because of the extremely forward shifted center of gravity. Standing upright independently without support from her crutches or something to lean on was not possible. Terra was very strong in the shoulders and quadriceps muscles because of the postural demand placed on those muscle groups. Her core trunk and neck stabilizers were very weak.

Our first application of Fascial Counterstrain was a Dural technique. Terra experiences interesting releases, Often rhythmic full body oscillations, repetitive movements or powerful contractions of large muscle groups. More often full body powerful activations of postural and trunk muscles that she had little or no control over. This release elicited a bridge, very interesting because of the total lack of ability to control the hip, gluteal and low back muscles in this position. Terra could not bridge at all and could not maintain a position of bent knees, feet flat on the table and knees pointing towards the ceiling, (hook lying), without the legs falling to the side. She has retained these abilities and has steadily gained postural and trunk control since.
All systems have been involved but the Dural, Nervous, and Arterial systems seem to be dominant players.

Terra is now able to stand flat footed. She is able for the first time to stand unaided without assistance. Walking is more fluid and stabile. Falling was once a frequent occurrence and when I last asked her, has not happened in over 6 months.
Here is a description of Terra’s experience.

TESTIMONIAL

My name is Terra. I was born with Cerebral Palsy. In my case, the left side of my body is more affected that the right, but my legs experience more difficulty than my arms. I am able to move about and walk independently with the assistance of forearm crutches. I can move about, eat speak work and live independently, but my body doesn’t always do what I want it to do. At times, it can feel like my body is working against my will. My muscles try to perform the action the brain is telling them to do, but they react to the brain signal by overcompensating. Once my muscles relax enough, I can accomplish what I set out to do.

When using my forearm crutches, my posture while standing was always hunched over, out of fear that if I put my heels all the way of the ground, there was a possibility that I could fall backwards. When taking steps, I was always on my toes. My stepping pattern was toe to partial –heel, never heel-toe, because I would rely so heavily on my crutches, constantly leaning forward out of fear of falling, my arms would stabilize me, rather than using my body support me.

Since starting Fascial Counterstrain method, I’ve been able to accomplish things that I’ve never been capable of doing! When I lay flat on my back, my feet can point straight up to the ceiling, whereas before hips would always fall out to the side. I can now put my heels on the ground while stepping and standing up right, putting minimal weight on my crutches, using my legs/body to maneuver in a more effective way.

Fascial Counterstrain has helped make substantial improvements to the way my body functions, I feel I have more endurance. I’m able to get around efficiently! I trip and fall much less. I find myself actually wanting to walk because it feels right. Currently, I am training to do run/walk in September. Last year I made it to 1.5 miles in 51 minutes- hoping to get 2 miles this year, shaving off even more time! I am incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to participate in this type of therapy.

Blessings,