How to Exercise With Cerebral Palsy


Exercising with Cerebral Palsy is not only good for the patient but in most cases it is absolutely essential for the well-being of the patient and for the loosening of the muscles which can be very constricted at times. The exercises must be adapted to the particular patient's needs but general movement is agreeable as well. Playing outdoors, swimming, aerobic exercise, weight resistance training, all are acceptable forms of exercise with cerebral palsy.

Things You'll Need

  • Bracing devices
  • Exercise equipment (weights, etc.)

How to Exercise With Cerebral Palsy

Swimming is an excellent exercise for patients with cerebral palsy as the water has a certain amount of resistance to it. The patient can float and his or her weight is much more buoyant than it is without water, so the person's movements are less restricted. Cold water is beneficial for increasing muscle tone while warm water tends to relax muscles. Whatever is needed for the muscle tone of the individual is what should be selected.

Stretch tightened muscles by working on the problem area for several minutes each day. For example, if the problem is tight calf muscles, the patient should exercise the legs by standing on his or her toes and slowly bouncing up and down. Also, flexing the calfs in a sitting position with the toes flexed and touching the toes, is a great stretching exercise.

Assist the patient in performing weight resistance exercises, using only the amount of weight that the patient can safely handle. Weight wrist bands, ankle bands and small dumbbells are ideal for this purpose.

Work the arms and legs in a cycling motion, using stationary bikes or hand machines. This can provide many positive effects for improving breathing and muscle strengthening.

Stretching is a basic exercise for all cerebral palsy patients. Different kinds of exercises can promote stretching. Just standing as tall as the palsy will allow is strongly beneficial. Supports should be used where needed, in case the patient is not capable of standing alone.

Try different types of aerobic exercises, such as Jogging, walking and climbing the stairs. These exercises work on improving circulation as well as muscle flexibility and strength. Many children very much enjoy Dancing and it can be a great way to improve muscle tone and tightness, their breathing and circulation.

Using certain tools to help with stretching therapy is a good idea. Inflatable therapy balls and therapy bolsters are useful for stretching the tight muscles of the cerebral palsy patient. Stretch the hamstrings with standers and floor sitters. Standers are like wheelchairs that keep the child strapped into a standing position and floor sitters are padded chairs with chest brace straps so the child can sit on the floor upright like other children.

Tips & Warnings

  • Playing outdoors is very good for children with cerebral palsy because it gets them moving and stretching and having fun at the same time.
  • Parents of very young children or infants can help them exercise by simply putting the arms and legs through the full range of motion.
  • Just like with anyone doing an exercise regimen, the cerebral palsy patient should not overdo any type of exercise. Thirty minutes a day of light exercise should be plenty, making sure to work on the problem areas the hardest.

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