Table 2

Alternative treatments used internationally for the management of CP

Complementary therapyPractice and evidence base
AcupunctureA reduction of muscle hypertonicity by the use of both acupuncture and acupressure has been observed in children with ‘spastic’ CP. The degree of benefit is very individual but the evidence from case series are encouraging.
Amino-acid therapyExtremely high doses of oral amino acids are linked with patterning physiotherapy. The latter provides short-term benefit. The former is at best physiologically questionable.
AromatherapyThe use of volatile essential plant oils and aromatic compounds to relax overactive muscle contraction.
Alexander techniqueA method of ‘physical and mental re-education’ where the focus is on inducing core stability with ‘self-improvement’ techniques.
Bowen techniqueSpecialist osteopathic massage of muscles and fascia to improve movement and posture.
Chinese herbal medicinesModulation of muscle tone by traditional herbal approaches.
Chiropractic therapySkilled practitioner manipulation, especially of the spine, improves the function of joints and surrounding soft tissues.
Cranial osteopathyThe treatment of musculoskeletal problems by inducing self-recuperation from ‘somatic dysfunction’. A multicentre trial has recently been completed on its use in children aged 5–12 years with cerebral palsy showing no improvement in health or quality of life. A number of case series do show consistent improvement in posture, range of movement and comfort, especially in infants.
HippotherapyAdaptation to horse's movement, working on posture and co-ordination, reducing muscle spasm. There are encouraging case series looking at improvement in core stability.
HomeopathyHomeopathic medicine, including specific G therapy of tissue salts and herb extracts, can be used ‘for a variety’ of neurodevelopmental disorders including cerebral palsy. There is no ‘medical evidence’ in peer-reviewed journals.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapyThe theory is to heal damaged tissue in central nervous system by removing free radicals by using high oxygen concentrations in pressure chambers. No peer reviewed evidence base.
Scotson techniqueFocuses on diaphragmatic strengthening, the theory is to improve oxygen flow to the damaged brain by gentle ‘manual delivery’ of breath and pulse like pressures.
Suit/adeli/thera/spider therapyRepetitive patterning exercises in a tight-fitting suit provide resistance to movement. It is connected by hooks, rings and elastic bungee cords to provide adjustable pressure and support at different joint levels. It is said to improve motor development and decrease bone demineralisation but evidence is limited.
ReflexologyPressure application to the feet and hands, the premise is to restore equilibrium.
Yoga and pilatesVarious different types of physical and breathing exercises, sometimes linked to meditation, to aid relaxation, strengthen and improve balance and reduce stiffness.
  • CP, cerebral palsy; G therapy, specific Ayurvedic homeopathic strategy for CP.