Tagged with: Autism awareness Cerebral Palsy disability exercise health Healthcare Professionals
September is Cerebral Palsy (CP) awareness month. Cerebral palsy is caused by an abnormal development or damage in the brain that controls movement. It affects motor function and can be classified into three groups of motor impairments; Spastic CP, Ataxic CP and Dyskinetic CP.
Spastic CP is defined as muscle tightness and is the most common of the three. The upper motor neuron lesion in the brain impairs the ability of some nerve receptors in the spine to properly receive the nutrients needed to signal repair and registers the muscle as hypertonic. Spastic muscles will then continuously contract, making it very difficult to function. Muscle tightness can lead to decreased joint flexibility which can then lead to immobility. Exercise at this point becomes difficult for the individual. Aquatic based exercise or aquatic massage in a warm pool (92-94 degrees) for individuals that deal with spasticity utilizes the properties of water to resist or assist performance.
Thermal aquatic massage improves soft tissue mobility and decreases hypertonicity. Massage changes the sensory input for the client that allows a re-education of the nervous system. Manual pressure given by the practitioner sustains a slow stretch of the muscle fiber and the gentle movement of the water allows the body time to respond in a positive way. Aquatic massage activates vestibular stimulation that will facilitate proprioceptive responses in the nervous tissue and muscular tissue. Some other benefits are keeping joint flexible strengthening muscles along with calming the nervous system. Neuromuscular relaxation is achieved with a 30 minute session.
Overall, a person with CP or any other health issue involving motor function, nerve and muscle impairments should consider using aquatic massage due to it’s benefits to engage vestibular stimulation and have proprioceptive responses. This type of therapy can only help to improve overall health function. Is Aquatic massage therapy something that would interest you? How has it benefitted you?