Adaptive equipment for cerebral palsy patients helps increase mobility and activity.
Adaptive equipment may encourage children with cerebral palsy to interact with the world around them and realize that they’re capable of doing more things on their own.
Adaptive Equipment for Cerebral Palsy
Check out these 10 adaptive tools for individuals with cerebral palsy! They may help improve gross motor skills like walking and fine motor skills like writing or eating.
Children with cerebral palsy may have difficulties walking due to spasticity in their hips and legs.
A wheelchair can help them improve their mobility and get around on their own.
Some people with cerebral palsy might have impaired motor control throughout their upper body, so a power wheelchair or power scooter will be ideal in cases of quadriplegia.
Working with a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or assistive technology professional (ATP) can help you get a wheelchair personalized to an individual’s specific needs. This may include having specific cushion styles, positioning devices, and power functions, in addition to choosing from various colors and accessories.
2. Gait Trainer
A gait trainer will help children with cerebral palsy develop their walking skills.
Gait trainers can vary in design; some will come with a built-in harness to prevent falling while others will be designed for postural alignment and support from behind.
A gait trainer allows your child to practice bearing and shifting their body weight. This helps strengthen the muscles and bones and prevents them from atrophying. A gait trainer can also help prevent the development of leg contractures.
3. Universal Cuff
Universal cuffs are extremely versatile and will definitely help children who struggle with their fine motor skills.
They can be attached to objects like toothbrushes, utensils, and pencils. They create a handle or larger grip so that the object is easier to hold.
A universal cuff will help promote children’s independence by encouraging them to practice more tasks on their own. Using universal cuffs can also help children with cerebral palsy express themselves creatively, as they can be attached to crayons, markers, or paintbrushes.
4. Communication Boards
Some children with cerebral palsy may have speech impairments.
Don’t mistake a speech impairment with an intellectual disability. Many children with speech impairments are very intelligent; they just lack motor control over their oral muscles.
A communication board will promote better speech and language skills by combining sounds with a visual aid.
Generally, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) will teach your child how to use one. An SLP can also design personalized communication boards for specific situations and interests a child may have.
Check out the video below for an example of how communication boards work.
5. Adaptive Utensils
Adaptive utensils will encourage children to eat on their own.
There are many different types of adaptive utensils for varying levels of motor impairments.
Some adaptive utensils will have larger grips so that the handles are easier to hold.
Some might be bent to a certain angle for children who have difficulties bending their wrists.
Others may have handles or straps that wrap around the arm to prevent being dropped.
6. Nosey Cup
Another adaptive tool that will make feeding children with cerebral palsy easier is a nosey cup.
It’s designed to keep your child from spilling while drinking.
The curve in the top of the cup allows space for your child’s nose, so they can lift the cup to drink without tilting their head as much.
7. Leg Lifter
Children with severe motor impairments in their legs but normal upper body control may benefit from using a leg lifter.
They make transferring in and out of wheelchairs much easier.
All your child has to do is place one foot inside the loop and pull the other side of the rope with their arms in order to move their leg where they want it to go.
Braces can help keep the body aligned and limit spasticity. They’re available for the neck, torso, arms, and legs.
Braces promote proper positioning to prevent developmental deformities or contractures caused by spasticity and help prevent uncontrollable movements.
They also build strength and gently stretch tight muscles, even when your child is sedentary.
9. Standing Frame
A standing aid will help children with cerebral palsy develop strength in their legs by bearing their own weight.
Standing aids also help promote postural symmetry, circulation to the lower extremities, and muscle endurance so children won’t tire out so quickly.
Slowly but surely, children may learn to stabilize themselves in an upright position, which brings them one step closer to standing on their own.
10. Bath Chairs
Kids with CP may find it difficult to sit upright in the bathtub because of poor balance skills and the slippery environment.
A bath chair will help children stay in place during their baths and provide additional neck and back support.
Using Adaptive Tools for Cerebral Palsy
Keep in mind that the purpose of adaptive equipment for cerebral palsy is to encourage your child to be more active and try things on their own.
They should be developing their gross and fine motor skills with the goal of no longer needing adaptive equipment.
The brain’s ability to adapt (neuroplasticity) is promoted through repetition. Therefore, the more your child practices developing these new skills, the easier they will become.
Children’s brains are very malleable and are capable of learning new skills faster than adult brains.
Once your child gets comfortable using adaptive tools, find a more challenging alternative or have them try the task without the tool.
By activating neuroplasticity through repetitive stimulation, the brain can rewire itself and learn functions affected by damaged areas of the brain.
Hopefully, this article helped you discover some new adaptive equipment for individuals with cerebral palsy and better understand the purpose behind them. Good luck!