Surgical treatment of cerebral palsy aims to restore and re-balance.
Cerebral palsy can affect the part of the brain that controls movement in the arms which can cause spasticity of the arm and hand, leading to a cycle of pain, stiffness and loss of use.
Cerebral palsy can affect the part of the brain that controls movement in the arms which can cause spasticity of the arm and hand, leading to a cycle of pain, stiffness and loss of use. The severity of the effects are variable, some patients have very mild effects whilst others develop severe difficulties from the beginning.
Surgical treatment of cerebral palsy aims to restore and re-balance the muscles and joints in the hand which have been stretched, weakened or stiffened over time. The surgery aims to maximise the function in the patient’s hand and arm. To achieve the best possible results, surgery has to be carefully planned and aftercare involving exercise and practice is extremely important.
Although cerebral palsy is the cause of the symptoms for most patients who are treated, there are many other causes of damage to this part of the brain such as head injury, infection, tumour and strokes. Patients who have been affected by these events or conditions could also be seen and treated.
Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the consultant you want to see, and when you want. They'll be with you every step of the way.
All of our consultants are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.
Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.
You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
We've tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.
For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.
Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
We understand that having surgery can potentially be a time of anxiety and worry. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.
Surgical procedures for cerebral palsy are generally done under general anaesthetic, which means you are asleep throughout the procedure and feel no pain. The procedures required vary from patient to patient and are often carried out in combination, depending on your individual needs, in order to achieve the best possible results. Your surgeon will discuss with you which procedure or procedures are the most suitable for you.
Common treatments include:
Your surgeon may perform more than one type of procedure, if needed, during a single operation.
Depending on the type of operation you have you will usually need to stay in hospital for between one and two days.
After the procedure, you will be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room, where you will come round from the anaesthesia under close supervision. After this, you will be taken to your own private room complete with en-suite facilities, TV and WiFi where you can recover in comfort until you’re feeling up to going home. Your friends and family will be able to visit pretty much anytime you want – we have flexible visiting hours.
After your surgery you will be prescribed painkillers to keep your arm comfortable. Your arm and hand will also be protected in a padded splint which will be elevated in a sling. Both of these help further reduce discomfort. Most patients find the pain is well-controlled and starts to settle after the first day but depending on your procedure or spasms the pain can last longer. We will provide you with a 14 day supply of all the medicines your consultant feels you need to take home with you after you’ve left hospital.
After surgery to the arm and hand your tissues will start to heal immediately so that by the time the cast is removed – typically at 4 weeks- your skin is healed and most of the swelling has settled. During the time that you are wearing the cast our hand therapist will show you exercises to do for the parts of the arm that are not in the cast to keep the joints supple. Once the cast is removed all the arm and hand will be included in exercises. The strength of the various tendon procedures takes 3 months to develop so it is important that you avoid heavy or loading activities eg gym / sport, until your consultant tells you it is safe. Swimming is an excellent way to get exercise during this time and can be carried out once the skin is healed and the cast removed.
How your loved ones can help
Once you’re ready to be discharged from hospital, you’ll need to arrange a taxi, friend or family member to take you home as you won’t be able to drive. You need to follow your surgeon’s advice about driving. You shouldn’t drive until you are confident that you could perform an emergency stop without discomfort.
Looking after you
Even after you’ve left hospital, we’re still looking after you every step of the way.
Typically your consultant will want to see you after your treatment to see how you’re doing. You might also be seen by one of our physiotherapists.
On rare occasions, complications can occur. If you experience any of these symptoms - your cast feels too tight and painful; your cast is rubbing and irritating your skin; your fingers or thumb feel numb; fever; loss of appetite; feeling unwell – please call us straight away.
If you have any questions or concerns, we're here to help.
We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.