The term Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a term used to describe a range of neurological conditions that affect muscle control and movement, and often include cognitive and sensory impairments too. This condition surfaces following damage to the brain either before or after birth. This damage can be due to an infection during pregnancy, a premature or complicated birth, a bleed in the baby’s brain, or mutations in the genes that effect the brain’s development.
What are the Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy?
There are a range of different Cerebral Palsy symptoms, with the main ones including stiffness or floppiness of the muscles, weakness of the muscles, uncontrolled body movements, and problems with balance and coordination. These symptoms vary in terms of severity. Additionally, some sufferers can sometimes experience fits, seizures, and learning difficulties.
Many sufferers of CP display symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder, with either an increased or decreased degree of sensory processing. For those with an increased degree of sensory processing, individuals experience an over-sensitivity to their environment, with small sounds becoming overwhelming, and delicate materials irritating the skin. You can find an in-depth explanation of sensory processing disorder in our previous post for more information.
Those with an under-sensitivity may lack interaction and experience mental and physical fatigue. This condition can cause sufferers to appear clumsy, struggle with fine motor skills and find it difficult to engage in conversations and play.
Sensory Integration Therapy
There is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, but problems with sight, hearing, and balance, can be treated with sensory integration therapy. By building and strengthening connections in the brain, which non-sufferers naturally do during childhood experiences, this form of therapy can help manage Cerebral Palsy. The therapy involves exposing children to sensory stimulation in a controlled and repetitive way.
For those with CP, sensory integration therapy helps individuals process sensory information more efficiently. The therapist gradually increases the complexity of activities, so the nervous system can respond to sensory input in a more controlled way. Therapy helps children with CP understand the relevance of sensory input and respond in the right way, particularly to external stimuli that is outside of their control.
What to Expect From Sensory Integration Therapy
The activities during therapy involve the CP sufferer interacting one-on-one with the Occupational Therapist, and the challenges combine sensory input and motion. This helps to form lasting behavioral patterns that a child can carry through their development and into adulthood. Sensory integration therapy works with all of the senses, and the frequency of therapy sessions depends on the individual and their circumstances. The more sessions that the child is able to do the better, however if the sufferer is school-age, then it is harder to make time for therapy sessions.
Please keep in mind that therapy is not a permanent treatment; the objective is to facilitate normal development and improve abilities to process and integrate sensory information, so that these children can return to a normal community or classroom, as soon as possible. If they are below school age it can be a good idea to participate in a more intensive therapy treatment plan for a year or two, before reducing the plan.
Multisensory rooms are designed to allow individuals with sensory problems to explore, run around, and play, which is why these rooms are an effective multisensory solution for those with Sensory Processing Disorder or CP. Each room can be adapted to meet the needs of the child; if the CP sufferer under-reacts to stimuli, then objects and therapy may involve more energetic activities and objects. For those that are over-sensitive, parents and therapists can choose equipment that is more calming and less interactive.
Objects such as balls, swings, and brushes are used to provide sensory inputs. By using the right frequencies and visual stimulation, sufferers of CP can move through a carefully designed environment that is based on their particular needs. There are lots of ideas for a multisensory room. For example, an IRiS balance beam is fun but also extremely beneficial in developing gross motor skills and balance. Or bubble tubes, which encourage interaction.
Sensory rooms are often used in medical settings for sensory therapies but parents of a CP sufferer can also have some multisensory equipment at home. There are many benefits of a multisensory room and these spaces offer a place that feels safe and calming while being fun for both adults and children who suffer from CP.
If you require further information on Experia USA’s wide range of multisensory rooms, then please don't hesitate to get in touch with our team! Alternatively, keep reading our blog for more advice and sensory solution information.