Encountering a pediatric patient with cerebral palsy is a rare scenario. However, it cannot be ruled out as an improbable situation. At Tri-County Orthotic Prosthetic Institute, effective orthotic treatment for a pediatric patient is given using custom adjustments to suit the patient’s unique needs, and with extensive knowledge of kinematics and the mechanics of the body. The CDC or Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the probability of a pediatric patient contracting cerebral palsy could be about one child out of 300. However, it was observed that this condition has become more prevalent of late, with males being more prone to the condition as opposed to the females. Here are a few options that we like to explore at Tri-County Orthotic Prosthetic Institute and how it affects the ambulatory skills of pediatric patients with cerebral palsy

Ankle Foot Orthotics (AFO)

The AFO is a brace generally made out of plastic that is used to compensate for weakness and to control the proper positioning of the ankle. The AFOs are generally used to control the ankle directly and can also be used to control the knee joint as well. AFOs that are designed to control the stance and foot swing can help to enhance the efficiency of the stride in pediatric patients who are affected with cerebral palsy. Since the latest trend in designing AFOs involves less use of rigid materials, it enables more motion in children.

Electrical stimulation

Enhancing the ambulatory skills using electrical stimulation is a recent trend as far as orthotics in cerebral palsy is concerned. This method involves using a device that triggers electrical impulses along with an AFO. As the patient moves, the device within the AFO sends minute electrical impulses through the peroneal nerves, and the muscles can then pick up these signals. The device also tries to reconnect neural signals, which originate from the foot, with the brain, in children with cerebral palsy. This can slowly restore the ability of the patient to pick up impulses even when they are not wearing the device. So the child can then walk free, without the use of an AFO.

Pharmacological and other alternatives

Among the other alternatives to AFOs and electrical impulses, the most prominent therapy is botulinum toxin treatment. The Botulinum toxin treatment is found to be very effective in correcting the stride efficiency in pediatric patients that face short-term ambulatory issues. Generally, the effects wear out after about 6 months, and then the patient needs to be reassessed