Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity Center | Cerebral Palsy Treatments

Cerebral palsy (CP) and its associated problems may affect the physical, cognitive and behavioral health of a child in countless ways, many of which change over time. Our team of cerebral palsy experts is part of your ongoing journey, working with your family, your child’s pediatrician and the many specialists throughout Boston Children’s Hospital to provide the most advanced and comprehensive treatment possible of any hospital in the world.

Cerebral Palsy Patient

As CP treatments have improved, the life spans of children with CP have increased. Our doctors are with you for the entire journey, adjusting treatment plans to stay ahead of developmental changes and to ensure ongoing, proactive care for your child.

Boston Children’s: Our Approach to Cerebral Palsy Treatment

Children with cerebral palsy face many challenges, and those challenges are different for each child. Our treatment plans are customized for your child’s specific needs and designed to support the long-term goals of maximizing function and independence.

Our approach to cerebral palsy care is distinguished by our:

  • Collaboration among specialties: Our dedicated CP team leverages the enormous depth and breadth of expertise at Boston Children’s—from our world-renowned neurologists and neurosurgeons to pain specialists and critical care. Our CP center also offers the convenience of same-day appointments with multiple specialists within the same clinic.  Meet our cerebral palsy team.
  • Complex care management: Our program treats some of the most medically complex and high-risk children with CP in the world. We have more Complex Care Specialists on our staff than any other CP center in the United States and each is dedicated to responding to the many interrelated needs of your child.
  • Transitional care: More advanced treatments mean longer life spans for patients with CP. Boston Children’s is an active leader in the transition movement. Our team helps young adults and their families consider the range of issues to anticipate as their medical care transitions to adult providers.  This includes access to educational resources, consultations with social workers and assistance whenever possible in facilitating new relationships with adult providers in subspecialty areas at other institutions.

Advanced Treatments for Cerebral Palsy

Our CP specialists will provide a comprehensive treatment plan that is highly customized to your child’s specific needs. The team caring for your child will be a proactive one, working to manage and stay ahead of the many symptoms and complications often associated with the condition. Their recommendations may include medical treatments and therapies and/or surgical interventions. 

Medical Treatments and Therapies for Cerebral Palsy

These include:

  • Medication: Medications can be very helpful in the management of many symptoms of CP. Your doctor will tell you whether medications such as botulinum toxin (botox) and baclofen, among others, are safe and advisable for your child.
  • Non-surgical aids: These often include seating and positioning aids, orthotics, special eating utensils, special writing utensils and communication aids. Learn more about our Augmentative Communication Program.
  • Physical and occupational therapy: Physical therapy alone, or in combination with special braces, works to prevent muscle contractures by stretching spastic (tight) muscles.
  • Speech, swallowing and communication therapy: Oromotor therapy allows many children with CP to improve communication, swallowing and feeding.
  • Hip surveillance: Hip displacement is a problem commonly seen in children with CP. Our doctors carefully monitor your child’s hip health over time in order to identify issues early and prevent complications.
  • General medical surveillance: Children with CP are known to be at risk for certain associated conditions, such as breathing or gastrointestinal disorders. Our team of experts is trained to identify those conditions and to assist in their management.

Learn more about medical treatments and therapies at Boston Children’s.

Surgical Interventions for Cerebral Palsy

For some patients, surgical intervention may be a necessary part of treatment. Surgical procedures to treat CP include:

  • Neurosurgery: Some children with CP have pain and spasms severe enough to warrant neurosurgical intervention. Our neurosurgeons specialize in procedures that can help control both the pain and the spasms caused by CP, including:
    • The implantation of a baclofen pump, a device that administers precise dosages of the muscle relaxant baclofen into your child’s spinal column
    • Selective dorsal rhizotomy, an operation that uses sophisticated monitoring to identify and cut certain nerves in the spinal canal to reduce spasticity and improve your child's movement and posture.
  • Orthopedic surgery: Boston Children's orthopedic surgeons have many years of expertise in treating CP symptoms that impact on the musculoskeletal system. We may recommend surgery if your child's muscle tone and contractures are severe enough to interfere with movement, positioning, gait, balance or coordination. Surgical procedures are also used to treat bony deformities, such as hip displacement, spinal curvature and lower extremity deformities. Learn more about orthopedic surgery.

Boston Children’s Coordinated Cerebral Palsy Expertise

In one place, at one time, you can consult with specialists working together to treat and support families facing the many challenges of cerebral palsy. Nowhere else in the world can you find such a coordinated team of experts working together to address your child’s individual needs.

Our cerebral palsy team includes complex medicine pediatricians with expertise in children with multi-system medical conditions. These specialists may include:

  • Neurologists
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Orthopedic surgeons
  • Physiatrists
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech therapists

All are dedicated to caring for children with CP in its many forms. These specialists maintain an open dialogue with each other and with families, ensuring the most informed and collaborative approach to care. Meet our cerebral palsy team.

Complex Care Services at Boston Children’s Hospital

Our Complex Care Services (CCS) program provides medical care to children with medical complexity. The dedicated complex care specialists in our CP center are trained to treat the “whole child,” identifying and addressing current or potential medical complications for those children who are more significantly affected by cerebral palsy.  Issues they may address include:

  • Growth and nutrition
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Respiratory problems such as asthma, aspiration or recurrent pneumonias
  • Vision and hearing impairment
  • Pain
  • Sleeping problems
  • Drooling
  • Urinary and kidney problems

The complex care doctors work with your child's medical team and may recommend medications to address these problems or studies to better understand an issue. They may make referrals to other specialists throughout the hospital. Your child's global development is also considered, and recommendations may be made for more detailed assessment or specific services in the community or at school.  If surgery is being considered, the complex care physicians work with the orthopedic surgeons or neurosurgeons to enhance your child’s peri-operative care (the care received before, during and after surgery).

Additionally, your child’s complex care specialist may act as a central point of contact, coordinating communication among your family and your child’s care team, primary care physician, school, daycare and state agencies. Learn more about our complex care services.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Related Conditions

Many patients face other health challenges that are often related to their CP. These children may be referred to one or more of the following programs at Boston Children’s, as needed:

Make an Appointment

For an appointment, more information or to obtain a second opinion for your child, please call us at 617-355-6021 or request an appointment online.

International Patients

For families residing outside of the United States, please call Boston Children's International Health Services at 1-617-355-5209.