Complementary and alternative methods in cerebral palsy

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2009 Oct;51 Suppl 4:122-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2009.03424.x.


There are no published studies specifically addressing complementary and alternative treatments in adults with cerebral palsy (CP). However, national surveys of adults with chronic disabilities document that a majority of them use such treatments, that they are willing to pay out of pocket, if necessary, and that they believe that pursuing such treatment relieves pain, reduces stress and anxiety, and leads to improved feelings of fitness and well-being. Individuals enjoy taking charge of their own health care decisions, and frequently feel more in control with these therapies than with more traditional methods. In contrast to adults, there is some information on complementary and alternative methods (CAM) in children with CP. This article discusses some of the CAM used in children that may be carried over into adulthood, as well as the pitfalls for patients and conventional physicians as they try to sort out what might be helpful and what might be harmful in this arena. Practitioners of both conventional and CAM therapies believe that exercise can be beneficial; accordingly, activities such as recreational sports, yoga, and hippotherapy may be continued from childhood into adulthood. General treatments for stress and anxiety, through such activities as yoga and meditation, though not directed at CP per se, may be more popular for adults than children. Research in this area should first identify what methods are being utilized and then subject these methods to well-designed outcome studies that take into account any associated risks.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Palsy / therapy*
  • Complementary Therapies* / economics
  • Humans