Patients who have cerebral palsy typically lose some of their muscle control and coordination. This disorder is caused by brain damage that can be due to an injury that occurred before birth. This damage to the part of the brain that regulates the body’s motor function results in a palsy, or a paralysis of muscles. As a result, cerebral palsy patients have poor control of the muscles needed for posture, balance, and speech.
Cerebral palsy's effect on the muscles in the face, neck, and throat can lead to difficulty chewing, swallowing, and speaking.
These challenges can in turn lead to problems eating, which restricts the ability of a child to grow normally and maintain a healthy weight, according to Cerebral Palsy Guide. Cerebral palsy can also lead to another disorder called dysphagia, which is characterized by difficulty swallowing.
Speech therapy can go a long way toward managing cerebral palsy and accompanying disorders, such as dysphagia. By exercising and improving the muscles used in speech, patients improve their oral motor skills. These skills can also improve difficulties chewing and swallowing, which will help patients keep up with their nutritional needs.
A speech therapist will start with a review of the patient’s case history, as well as some tests to assess hearing, language, and cognitive ability, explains The Global Dispatch. The speech therapy exercises appropriate for each patient will depend on the severity of the disorder and the individual’s particular needs. But some common speech therapy exercises include articulation therapy to focus on specific sounds; blowing exercises to train mouth muscles and develop breath control; jaw exercises that can help patients develop the muscle movements necessary for chewing; and exercises to squeeze lips around a lollipop, which is intended to improve the patient’s ability to use the mouth and facial muscles of the lips.
Cerebral palsy can be a challenging disorder for patients but with the appropriate care, including speech therapy, it is manageable. To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog.
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