Rolfing and Cerebral Palsy

The Rolfing Technique of Structural Integration holds great promise as a complementary treatment for young children with cerebral palsy. Research at Stanford University demonstrates that Rolfing has proven to be helpful for children with mild to moderate cases of spastic cerebral palsy.

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Mildly impaired patients showed significant improvements in gait, as was demonstrated in clinical trials. The results indicate that Rolfing leads to improved performance of mildly affected patients. It is thought that the mildly affected group had the best results due to their neurological capacity to make use of increased tissue mobility in their daily lives.

David Frome has been Rolfing children with cerebral palsy since the 1980’s. He has observed the positive impact of Rolfing on muscle tone and stiffness. He states, “Spastic cerebral palsy causes chronic and excessive tension of muscles. Over time, connectives tissues shorten and thicken. As a result, the body develops a stiffness that becomes cemented into the structure. This rigidity affects posture, body organization and mobility. Rolfing releases tight, adherent fascia with gentle manipulation. Rolfing is a potent antidote to the excessive muscle tightness from CP. There is no question that Rolfing should be included as a significant form of treatment for CP”.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the most common type of CP. This neurologic problem is caused by an injury to the developing brain of the fetus, baby or young child. The symptoms vary and range from mild to severe. While there is no cure for Spastic CP, there are Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy treatment options to reduce symptoms and improve motor function

Physical and Occupational therapy regimens including assisted stretching, strengthening, functional tasks, and/or targeted physical activity and exercise are classically used to help manage spastic CP. There are also many wonderful approaches pediatric therapists use including NDT (Neuro-Developmental Treatment) and CE (Conductive Education.)

In the case of Spastic CP, groups of muscles are continuously over working. Arms, legs, neck and trunk can become stiff and rigid from the chronic and excessive muscle activity.  The resulting stiffness and tightness can limit mobility and sometimes lead to fixed joint contractures. Spasticity often has an impact on motor development. Babies and children with chronic muscle spasticity often lose range of motion in their joints; that is, a knee may not fully extend or a hand might not fully open. Spasticity often has an impact on motor development. Spasticity can make it difficult for the youngster to perform simple movement tasks and hinder normal development. The milestones of crawling, sitting standing and walking may be difficult for the growing child to attain.

At Frome Physical Therapy we are committed to the health and development of all of our children.  Contact us with questions or schedule a children’s Rolfing session online.  The contents of this article are not meant to be diagnostic or prescriptive.  Always consult a physician before choosing a course of treatment.

March is National Cerebral Palsy awareness month. It is critical that Federal funding be established to support studies for cutting edge treatments such as the one at Stanford. So go green, and get involved in National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month.

Also Read:

Rolfing and Cerebral Palsy – Sam’s Story

Image Courtesy: Cerebral Palsy Awareness |