Weighted Blanket for Cerebral Palsy

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is considered to be a neurological brain disorder caused by brain damage or malformation that occurs while a child's brain is still in the developmental stages. It is usually acquired before or during a baby's birth, or during the child's first 3 to 5 years.

This disorder typically affects posture, balance, muscle tone, muscle control, reflex, movement, as well as motor skills (i.e., motions carried out when the brain, nervous system, and muscles work together).

The brain damage can also bring on other health problems, and may also impair vision, hearing, and speech, as well as lead to intellectual defects and increase the chances of seizures.

CP is one of the most prevalent congenital disorders among children. According to the United Cerebral Palsy Association, over 500,000 Americans manifest one or more symptoms of, or have been diagnosed with, cerebral palsy. In most of these cases, the individuals were diagnosed by the age of 2 to 3 years old.

There Are Three Different Types Of CP:

1. Spastic Cerebral Palsy — the most common type of CP, this causes tightness in muscles in some parts of the body. Individuals with this type of CP are unable to relax and experience difficulty with movement.

2. Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy — this leads to rapid, uncontrolled movements that occur involuntarily and which affect the face, neck, legs, arms, feet, and even the torso.

3. Ataxic Cerebral Palsy — the rarest type of CP, this leads to problems with balance and depth perception and involves the entire body. 

Because CP attacks the muscles and affects muscle control, simple motions like sitting and standing still are laborous. Worse, even functions that involve motor skills and involuntary movement (such as eating, breathing, bladder control, and bowel movements) may also be impaired.

What Problems Does CP Cause?

People with CP suffer from varying degrees of physical disability. The type of movement affected, the number of limbs involved, as well as the extent of the damage, vary between person to person. While some individuals with CP only have mild cases, others have severe impairments.

This is all dependent on the degree of damage the brain underwent. For some people with CP, their condition might only affect the part of the brain that controls talking, or in extreme cases, the entire body's muscle control might be affected.

Other medical issues may also arise if the extent of the brain damage reaches certain functions:

  • vision problems or blindness
  • seizures
  • hearing loss
  • speech difficulties
  • choking
  • acid reflux 
  • intellectual disability
  • drooling
  • bowel and bladder problems
  • joint problems
  • stunted or slow growth
  • weak bones
  • behvaior problems
  • sleep disorders

How Is Cerebral Palsy Treated?

The injury on a CP sufferer's brain is permanent, as the brain does not "heal" in the same way as the rest of the body does. While there is currently no cure for CP, treatment, therapy, special equipment, and (in special cases) surgery are available to assist individuals who are living with this disorder.

A wide range of resources and therapies can help individuals with CP improve their quality of life and achieve their maximum potential.

As soon as a diagnosis is given, someone with CP can begin therapy for speech, movement, learning, as well as other areas where they might need help, even with social and emotional development.

For problems with muscle function, there are braces and medical breakthroughs in surgeries that can help improve their condition. Orthopedic surgery can be done for patients who have developed a curvature of the spine, otherwise known as scoliosis. Dislocated hips are another common problem associated with CP that may be fixed by surgery.

Muscle pains and stiffness are treated with oral medicine, as well as a baclofen pump that is typically implanted under the skin.

Bone health is also of prime importance to individuals with CP. Diets high in calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorous are recommended to keep their bones strong. 

Cerebral Palsy & Sleep Aids

One of the problems that bother individuals with CP is the inability to fall and stay asleep at night. While there are medications that can be taken for this, namely the natural sedative melatonin, an effective alternative that is both drug-free and non-invasive is Miran Blanket.

This is a weighted blanket with multiple 6" square pockets containing glass microbeads suspended in a polyester coating. You can choose between different weight option, depending on how heave you are. It comes with a removable, machine-washable cover made of a soft, cuddly minky fabric.

The weighted blanket can help someone with CP as the weight can soothe their nerves and reduce some of their spastic movements. 

Brenda Richards, an occupational therapist and co-owner of The Center for Lifeskills in Solon, Ohio, says that she uses weighted blankets to help children in several ways.

In an article on Comforting Anxious Children, written by Janis D. Gioia, Brenda says that “weighted blankets offer DPTS, or Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation which calms the central nervous system... These blankets give children a big, warm hug. This sends a message to their brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These hormones improve a child’s mood and calm anxiety.”’

“In addition," Brenda says, “Weighted blankets make children feel grounded and safe. They improve attention and focus, which helps children with anxiety, attention deficit, sensory integration and autism spectrum disorders.”