Children and adults living with cerebral palsy (CP) may need aids or adaptive devices at home, school, and work to make their lives easier.

Every person with CP experiences a unique set of symptoms. Accordingly, they’ll need different types of support. The best way to determine which devices will likely be most useful is to discuss them with the patient’s care team. This team can include primary care specialists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists. Physical and occupational therapists help patients determine which aids will be most useful for them, and work with patients to make sure that they can use the devices with a minimum of help.

Below are different types of aids and adaptations that may be useful for people with CP.

Bathing aids

For many patients, bathing or showering can be a challenging part of the day. They may not be able to support themselves well in the shower or tub, and could find a chair or supports like grab rails would make bathing easier. Transferring from a chair or crutches to a bathing chair may also be challenging. Many patients have to install a lift or support system to make the transfer easier and safer.

Children and adults may also have trouble using the bathroom independently. There are many alternate types of toilets or toilet seats that can make bathroom needs easier to address for these people.

Lift systems

In addition to transfers from a wheelchair to a bathing chair, lift systems can be useful for moving from a bed to a chair, or from a chair to a toilet. These lift systems are generally installed on a ceiling, and have a system of pulleys and straps to lift the patient and slide them to a bed, chair, or toilet. These systems are generally useful in the bathroom and the patient’s bedroom.

Additional motorized lift systems may make navigating stairs easier. A motorized system can lift the patient’s wheelchair up and down the stairs.

Patients may also need lift systems to get into and out of vehicles. This can be a system of straps and pulleys, or a motorized lift that elevates the patient’s wheelchair or mobility device into the vehicle for transport.

Mobility aids

Many patients with CP require mobility aids to get around. This can be as simple as orthotic braces, and crutches or sticks to make walking easier, or a wheelchair or mobility scooter. These devices are often not available without a prescription from a physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

Braces and walking aids must often be designed specifically for the patient. Depending on the degree of disability a patient has, mobility scooters may also need to be custom made, like allowing for movements of the hand or fingers that are sufficient to guide the scooter.

Writing  and speaking aids

Communication can be difficult, as some types of CP affect the muscles of the tongue and throat to make speaking difficult. Muscle coordination for writing or typing may also take more time and effort to develop.

Communication aids, which convert pictures to sounds or words, or voice to text software or devices, may be useful for some patients. Working with a language and speech therapist can help patients and their families communicate more effectively. It can also help in determining which aids or devices are likely to be most helpful.

Dexterity aids

Patients may have trouble with daily tasks like feeding or dressing. Depending on the specific difficulties a patient is dealing with, aids can make gripping utensils or working with tools easier. Patients may also need special devices that assist in getting dressed, such as a dressing stick or sock aids for putting on socks.

Replacing buttons and laces with snaps or Velcro can also make getting dressed easier for patients.

Monitoring equipment

For people with epilepsy or young CP patients, family members and caregivers may want a monitoring system. Epilepsy monitors can detect some types of seizures and alert family members and caregivers that emergency help is necessary.

Because sleep apnea or other breathing disorders can be common to cerebral palsy, many families set up a two-way baby monitor system in a patient’s bedroom, and rely on a button alert system for assistance as needed.

Support equipment

Patients may need specialized support equipment when sitting up or lying down to sleep. Specialized chairs and support systems for beds are available to minimize the risk of falls or injuries.

 

Last updated: Mar. 9, 2020

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Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Emily holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa and is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated with a Masters in Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and holds a Bachelors in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Central Arkansas. Emily is passionate about science communication, and, in her free time, writes and illustrates children’s stories.
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Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.
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Emily holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa and is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated with a Masters in Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and holds a Bachelors in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Central Arkansas. Emily is passionate about science communication, and, in her free time, writes and illustrates children’s stories.
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