Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity Center | Medical Treatments & Therapies

Families come to Boston Children’s from around the globe seeking the most advanced and comprehensive care available for their child. While 10 to 30 percent of our patients with cerebral palsy (CP) will require some form of surgical intervention to treat their condition, most children do not. These children benefit primarily from non-surgical treatments and therapies that aim to:

  • Prevent or minimize physical deformities
  • Improve and enhance mobility, independence and motion
  • Support school integration and engagement in the community
  • Improve overall health

Our cerebral palsy team will collaborate with you and your pediatrician to design a treatment plan that addresses the specific needs of your child and that changes with your child over time as he or she develops.

Medications Used to Treat Cerebral Palsy

Medications can be very effective in relieving symptoms of CP. Medications our doctors may prescribe include:

  • Antispasmodics, such as Baclofen, which reduces muscle spasms and spasticity and can relax tightness in the muscles
  • Anticonvulsants, which can treat seizures in children who experience them as a part of their CP
  • Anticholingerics, which can help children who experience dystonia and uncontrollable drooling
  • Botulinum toxin injections to help reduce muscle tightness

Medications should only be taken exactly as prescribed by your child's doctor.

Non-surgical Aids for Cerebral Palsy

Management of cerebral palsy usually requires the help of non-surgical aids to help children with basic day-to-day functions. These aids include:

  • Seating and positioning aids like wheelchairs, walkers and ergonomic chairs that promote correct posture
  • Orthotics like braces and splints, used to prevent deformity and to provide support or protection for the limbs and torso. Your child’s orthotics can be custom fitted here at the NOPCO Orthotics Shop at Boston Children's.
  • Special eating utensils, specifically forks, spoons and knives designed for children with fine motor skill difficulties
  • Special writing utensils, specifically pens and pencils with grips and handles designed for kids with fine motor skill problems
  • Communication aids, used to help children who may have difficulty hearing, understanding or communicating with others. These can include:
    • Special books and posters with pictures your child can point to in order to indicate a request or answer a question
    • Alphabet boards that can be used to spell out messages
    • Computers with adaptive programs and functions—such as speech-recognition software. Learn more about our Augmentative Communication Program.

Therapeutic Treatment for Cerebral Palsy

A comprehensive evaluation by a team of professionals at Boston Children’s will help determine a therapeutic treatment plan that supports the individual needs and goals of your child. Our doctors will work with your child’s local pediatrician to develop the best plan for ongoing, therapeutic treatment possible. This plan may include:

  • Physical therapy: Either alone or in combination with orthotic devices like a brace or splint, physical therapy can be extremely beneficial in preventing muscle contractures by stretching your child's spastic (tight) muscles. Many children with CP receive regular physical therapy where they take part in stretches, strengthening exercises and activities that can help them improve their flexibility, endurance and mobility.
  • Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy can be very helpful in giving your child independence, confidence and essential life skills. The occupational therapist will use exercises, games and training to help your child:
    • Develop better fine motor skills for holding and grasping objects
    • Improve hand-eye coordination
    • Use adaptive computer programs and other technologies to improve communication
    • Learn techniques for anger and stress management
    • Master basic skills, such as bathing, feeding themselves and getting dressed
  • Speech, swallowing and communication therapy: Speech therapy can help your child improve difficulties with communication, swallowing and feeding. A speech therapist can work with your child to:
    • More easily form words through better mouth movements
    • Learn and follow sign language
    • Use communication aids, like adaptive computer programs and specialized picture books
    • Strengthen the tongue
    • Improve chewing and drinking ability

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.