Therapy for CP
Children with CP often go to different kinds of therapy to help them improve their motor skills for things like walking, talking and using their hands. Some kids get therapy at school and some kids go to a special clinic to see their therapists. Therapists are special teachers who are trained to work with people on learning better or easier ways to do things. Just like a coach who helps you learn and practice new skills to make you a better soccer or basketball player, therapists “coach” people to help them learn and practice new skills.
Physical therapists help children learn better ways to move and balance. They may help children with CP learn to walk, use their wheelchair, stand by themselves, or go up and down stairs safely. Kids may also work on fun skills in physical therapy like running, kicking and throwing a ball, or learning to ride a bike. Physical therapy is usually called “PT” for short.
Speech therapists work with children on communication skills. Communication skills may mean talking, using sign language, or using a communication aid. Children who are able to talk may work with a speech therapist on making their speech clearer (easier to understand) or on building their language skills by learning new words, learning to speak in sentences, or improving their listening skills. Children who are not able to talk because of their difficulty controlling the muscles needed for speech may learn sign language or use some kind of communication aid. A communication aid might be a book or poster with pictures that show things the person might want, or an alphabet board that the person can use to spell out their message. There are also computers that are used as communication aids that actually talk for the person!
Occupational therapists usually work with children on better ways to use their arms, hands, and upper body. They may teach children better or easier ways to write, draw, cut with scissors, brush their teeth, dress and feed themselves, or control their wheelchair. Occupational therapists also help children find the right special equipment to make some everyday jobs a little easier.
Recreational therapists help kids with CP have fun! They work with children on sports skills or other leisure activities. In recreational therapy kids may work on dance, swimming or horseback riding. They may also work on art or horticulture (growing and taking care of plants) or almost any other hobby they are interested in.