Complementary and alternative therapies for cerebral palsy

Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2005;11(2):156-63. doi: 10.1002/mrdd.20066.


The optimal practice of medicine includes integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available clinical evidence from systematic research. This article reviews nine treatment modalities used for children who have cerebral palsy (CP), including hyperbaric oxygen, the Adeli Suit, patterning, electrical stimulation, conductive education, equine-assisted therapy, craniosacral therapy, Feldenkrais therapy, and acupuncture. Unfortunately, these modalities have different degrees of published evidence to support or refute their effectiveness. Uncontrolled and controlled trials of hippotherapy have shown beneficial effects on body structures and functioning. Studies of acupuncture are promising, but more studies are required before specific recommendations can be made. Most studies of patterning have been negative and its use cannot be recommended. However, for the other interventions, such as hyperbaric oxygen, more evidence is required before recommendations can be made. The individual with CP and his or her family have a right to full disclosure of all possible treatment options and whatever knowledge currently is available regarding these therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods
  • Cerebral Palsy / therapy*
  • Child
  • Humans