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Cerebral Palsy and Nursing Care

The nurse plays a vital role in cerebral palsy treatment. Because every individual with cerebral palsy has a different set of problems, nurses must treat each patient as an individual. How the nurse cares for the person with cerebral palsy (CP) depends in part on the type of movement disorder the patient has.

Movement disturbances generally are classified as one of four types:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy: Between 50 and 75 percent of cerebral patients have this type of movement problem; It is characterized by stiff muscles that are permanently contracted.
  • Athetoid cerebral palsy: 10 to 20 percent of persons with cerebral palsy have this type of movement disorder; these patients have slow, writhing movements that cannot be controlled.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy: Patients with this form of movement disorder have trouble with coordination, balance and depth perception. They make up 5 to 10 percent of cerebral palsy patients.
  • Mixed cerebral palsy: 10 percent or more of CP patients have the mixed form of movement disturbance.

Reasons for Cerebral Palsy Nursing Care

  • Physical mobility problems: the nurse plans activities to help patients improve both fine muscle skills, such as holding a pencil, to gross motor skills, such as reaching for an object. Patients should be helped with range of motion exercises every four hours. The nurse should encourage activities such as sitting, maintaining balance, crawling, and walking. Patients are taught to use aids such as parallel bars or crutches.
  • Poor nutrition: because of feeding difficulties as well as needing to expend high amounts of energy to complete tasks, cerebral palsy patients often do not take in an adequate number of calories. Nurses encourage patients to eat high calorie foods as well as a diet having a lot of roughage. The nurse also should be involved with teaching the patient's family how to maintain such as diet and what techniques can be used to enhance the child's ability to eat.
  • Risk of becoming injured: the nurse should ensure that the patient's environment is safe. This can include using padded furniture, side rails on the bed, sturdy furniture that does not slide, safe toys and car seat belts. Pillows in the bed, throw rugs, and highly polished floors should be avoided.
  • Problems related to hearing loss such as impaired verbal communication: the nurse may be involved with finding a speech therapist. A cerebral palsy nurse or speech therapist should take advantage of non-verbal methods of communication such as pictures, flashcards, and talking boards.
  • Self-esteem: the nurse can provide emotional support, help the patient achieve an improved image of his or her body, and increase the child's self-esteem.
  • Family: the nurse can promote family members' involvement with the child with cerebral palsy and teach the family how to help with the child's physical and emotional problems.

For more information about nursing care, contact us today.