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What Interventions are Available for People with Cerebral Palsy?

The management of CP may require a multitude of different medical professionals and specialists in addition to specialized equipment which allows independence and/or support for the affected person.

The Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia lists several aids for mobility and communication which are frequently used by people with CP:


Mobility aids:

  • Wheelchairs (manual, power, and sports)

  • Scooters

  • Specially made bicycles and tricycles

  • Walkers and crutches


Communication devices:

  • Symbol boards

  • Voice synthesizers

  • Head sticks and keyguards for computers


Daily living aids:

  • Electronic door openers

  • Large-handled eating utensils

  • Grab sticks

  • Environmental control systems

As for medical and therapeutic intervention, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance lists many types of treatment that a person with CP may receive to help alleviate impairments:


Movement difficulties:

  • Medication: may be administered orally, by injection, or through implanted pump to help with muscle spasticity and/or pain.

  • Surgical procedures: Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) may help children with spasticity in the legs.

  • Physiotherapy and occupational therapy: may help with day-to-day movement skills.


Muscle, bone, and joint difficulties:

  • Surgical procedures: orthopedic surgeries may correct joint and muscle deformities to improve impairments and reduce pain.

  • Casts, splints, and muscle strengthening: physiotherapists use these to prevent movement impairments.


Communication issues:

  • Speech pathology: helps to improve communication skills, sometimes involving signing, communication boards, and speech generating devices.


Intellectual disability and learning difficulties:

  • Assessments, special education and learning strategies: psychologists, occupational therapists, and special educators can help develop strategies to improve and facilitate learning.



  • Medication: epilepsy and seizures may be controlled with prescribed antiepileptic medication.


Pain management:

  • Medication: pain may be alleviated by using medication and by determining the underlying cause of the pain.

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy: chronic pain may be managed with cognitive-behavioural therapy through a psychologist.


Sleep disorders:

  • Medication: prescribed medication may be used to treat sleep issues.

  • Behaviour therapy: behaviour therapy may be used to treat sleep issues.

  • Sleep systems: occupational therapists and physiotherapists may prescribe sleep systems to increase comfort in bed.


Behaviour and emotional issues:

  • Behaviour therapy and counselling: psychologists may be able to offer therapy and counselling to a person with CP and their family to improve behavioural and emotional issues.


Issues with eating, digestion, and nutrition:

  • Medication and surgery: severe digestion issues such as gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) may require medication and/or surgery, and potentially non-oral feeding through a tube inserted in the stomach or small intestine.

  • Speech pathology: Speech pathologists can help with eating/drinking/swallowing by helping someone with CP learn to better use the mouth muscles, or by using special utensils and positioning the body in a certain way.

  • Dietary advice: dietitians can help with balancing and improving nutrition.


Issues with saliva control (dribbling and drooling):

  • Speech pathology: speech pathologists may be able to help with facial muscle control and may suggest clothing protection.

  • Medication: Botulinum Toxin Type A may be used temporarily, through injection into the salivary glands, to reduce the secretion of saliva.


Hearing and vision impairment:

  • Much like the general population, these issues are managed by ophthalmologists, optometrists, audiologists, and other medical professionals.

  • Types of interventions may include corrective eye wear (e.g., glasses or contact lenses) for vision impairment, hearing aids for hearing impairment, and sometimes medication or surgery.

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