PT Kids on: Cerebral Palsy & Hand Skills

PT Kids on: Cerebral Palsy & Hand Skills

Here we will explore the effect of altered muscle tone and its effect on the hand skills of children. A common condition that affects muscle tone is Cerebral Palsy. We work with all types & distributions of cerebral palsy, supporting children to meet their full potential and to be as independent as possible.

Children with hemiplegia (a form of cerebral palsy, affecting one side of the body more than the other) can have increased/decreased tone on their affected side which can have an impact on the use/function of their upper limbs. This makes it difficult for them to engage with activities of daily living such as feeding, dressing, self-care and handwriting.

Occupational therapists work closely with families and schools to make joint, realistic, measureable, timely goals to support children with their development.

When working with children occupational therapists use activity as a form of therapy and tailor sessions to children’s interests to enable children to develop with their skills to meet goals.


Treatment usually involves the following to improve functioning;

  • Taking upper limbs through passive range of movement

This supports the limbs to feel normal movement and help to build up positive neural connections and can help with breaking tone in increased affected limbs.

  • Proprioceptive feedback

This is done by the occupational therapist to build up the neural connections between the limb and the brain. Providing the body of an awareness of where their body is in space.

  • Body brushing

This is used to reduce any tactile defensiveness which may be in the affected arm.  It is believed to facilitate the coordination of the way the brain & body process sensory information, thus having a positive effect on function.

  • Hand strengthening

This can include the use of weight bearing through upper limbs, followed by, the use of therapy putty. Therapy putty helps to develop and promote hand strength, pincer grasp, wrist extension, index finger isolation and pressure control.

Further grasp and release activities build on the strength in the upper limbs such as board games; hungry hippo’s, posting activities, and what’s in the bag?

  • Messy play

All of the materials used in messy play encourage children to use each of their senses. Such as, taste, touch, smell, sight and sound whilst having fun. The use of messy play helps to stimulate as well as build on the neuropathways from the upper limbs to the brain to form positive connections.  Messy play also builds on fine motor skills, coordination, problem-solving, language development, pre-handwriting development and confidence.

How can PT Kids Help? 

To understand the best form of treatment for your child they should be assessed and guided by an occupational therapist.

If your child has a diagnosed condition such as cerebral palsy, hypermobility or dyspraxia we could help them with their hand skills.

We put your goals at the centre of our treatment and set realistic, achievable targets for your child to work on.

A treatment plan is formulated and is often delivered at home and also into school for the best results. We teach school staff and support workers to carry out hand skill programmes. Schools find this particularly useful when it focuses on writing skills.

If you have any questions about how we could help, please don’t hesitate to contact us. | 07807 004399 |

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