Cerebral Palsy and Splints

Cerebral palsy is Neurological condition that affect a child’s movement and coordination.
Neurological conditions affect the brain and nervous system.
Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain, which normally occurs before, during or soon after birth. Known possible causes of cerebral palsy include:
• infection in early pregnancy
• a difficult or premature birth
• bleeding in the baby’s brain
• abnormal brain development in the baby

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

The symptoms of cerebral palsy vary greatly from child to child and depend on the type of cerebral palsy your child has . Some children have problems walking, while others are profoundly disabled and require lifelong care
Children with cerebral palsy often have other related conditions or problems, including:
• epilepsy
• learning difficulties
• incontinence
• visual impairment
• hearing impairment
• difficulties speaking or understanding other people speak
• delayed growth
• curved spine (scoliosis)
• drooling
How common is cerebral palsy?
It is estimated that 1 in every 400 children in the UK is affected by cerebral palsy. Approximately 1,800 babies are diagnosed with the condition each year.


Cerebral palsy is not a progressive condition. This means it will not get worse as your child gets older. However, it can put a great deal of strain on the body, which can cause problems in later life.
There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but a range of treatments can help relieve symptoms and increase a child’s sense of independence and self-esteem. These include physiotherapy, occupational therapy and medication to relieve muscle stiffness and spasms.

What are Casts and Splints?

Casts, splints, and orthoses are all devices that are designed to maintain the body in a certain position. These devices are used to prevent or correct deformities and/or to help children overcome activity limitations, such as difficulties with standing and walking.
Casts are made of plaster or fiberglass, the same materials used to cast broken bones. They may be solid or removable (that is, cut in half down the length of the cast to allow removal for periods of time). Casts are usually applied for periods between 2 and 6 weeks. Sometimes they are removed and reapplied to increase the stretching effect on the muscles when improvement has been observed. This is referred to as serial casting.

Laurens Night Splints

Laurens Night Splints

Splints are commonly made out of plastics that can be heated and moulded directly onto the body. They can be produced quickly; however, the plastic is not very strong. As such, splints are usually recommended only when the device is needed for a short time, or when there is not much force placed on the material.
How do Casts and Splints Work?
Standing With Splints

Standing With Splints

Casts and splints work by applying forces to the body. By encompassing parts of the body and preventing movement, muscles and joints can be stretched. Many muscles cross two joints (for example, the calf muscles cross both the ankle and knee). To exert a stretching effect, either both joints must be held by the device or activities that stretch the joint that is not in the device should be encouraged. Casts and splints can also provide stability to help some children stand and walk. This is the biomechanical explanation for why these devices work.

The forces that casts and splints usually apply are reactive (that is, they prevent movement by resisting the forces generated by the body). However, muscles lengthen more efficiently in response to active forces. New developments in orthotic design are using compressed gas pistons or coiled springs to generate active forces.


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