Treating Complications of Cerebral Palsy

Urinary incontinence, caused by faulty control over the bladder muscles in CP patients, can be treated with exercises, biofeedback, prescription drugs, surgery, or surgically implanted devices that replace or aid muscles.

Drooling, caused by poor functioning of the muscles of the throat, mouth, and tongue, can be difficult to control. Anticholinergic drugs reduce the flow of saliva but may produce side effects like mouth dryness and poor digestion. Surgery sometimes helps, but also can worsen swallowing problems. Biofeedback has been proven helpful in patients who are motivated and intellectually unimpaired.

Eating and swallowing problems may require the caregiver to prepare food in a semisolid fashion, such as strained vegetables and fruits. Physical therapy can support and promote proper positioning while eating or drinking, or help extend the neck away from the body to reduce the risk of choking.

Severe swallowing problems may necessitate the use of a tube to deliver food down the throat and into the stomach. Gastrostomy, which involves making a surgical opening in the abdomen that allows tube-feeding directly into the stomach, is sometimes necessary.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Jan 2000

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015