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Physical Therapy & Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is an umbrella term for a group of motor disabilities that affect your muscle tone, movement, coordination, and more. It is caused by abnormalities during brain development or injury or damage to your brain in childbirth or early life.

While there’s no cure for CP, treatment can greatly help improve daily functioning and reduce your risk of future health complications. Physical therapy is a highly effective treatment approach for improving movement and functioning and reducing pain in people with CP.

What does a physical therapist do for cerebral palsy?

Physical therapy is one of the most important treatment options for children living with CP. In fact, most children who receive a diagnosis of CP begin physical therapy as one of their first treatments.

Physical therapists work closely with people who have CP to decrease their risk of health complications and improve their:

  • coordination and balance

  • posture, gait, and mobility

  • joint and muscle flexibility

  • strength and endurance

  • chronic pain management

At-home exercises for cerebral palsy

As part of a regular physical therapy program, many people with CP also practice exercises at home.

  • For muscle: Muscle building helps your improve strength and endurance. Some exercise options include free weights, resistance bands, bodyweight workouts, and at-home pool workouts.

  • For cardio: Cardio helps improve your heart health and stamina. Some exercise options include the recumbent or stationary bike, at-home pool workouts, and online fitness or dance classes.

  • For flexibility: Flexibility exercises help improve your bone and joint health. Some exercise options include stretching, online yoga classes, and resistance bands.

ResearchTrusted Source has shown that at-home approaches, when done in collaboration with healthcare professionals, can help further improve your CP symptoms.


Physical therapy is among the most important treatment approaches for helping improve a person’s symptoms of CP, especially in young children. Physical therapy can also be paired with other forms of therapy, like occupation, recreational, or speech and language therapy.

If you or a loved one living with CP is interested in learning more about the different therapy options available to you, consider reaching out to a doctor.

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