Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Cerebral Palsy

  • Rachel M. Thompson
  • William Lawrence OppenheimEmail author
Living reference work entry


Many parents of children with cerebral palsy turn to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) when traditional medical care does not “deliver” either for symptom management or in providing a cure. For cerebral palsy, CAM practitioners frequently utilize acupuncture, spinal manipulation, Reiki, reflexology, healing touch, yoga, craniosacral therapy, and hyperbaric oxygen.

In North America, the use of CAM has been reported to be between 35–56% for children with CP and 27% for adolescents with CP. A typical course of alternative treatment, regardless of modality, costs between $3500 and $4500 in the United States, and most spending on CAM is out-of-pocket. Despite cost, many patients and their families are willing to pay regardless of the lack of scientific evidence supporting the treatment’s efficacy.

Currently there is limited evidence to support some narrow benefits associated with the use of acupuncture, myofascial structural integration, and the Adeli/TheraSuit. There is no evidence to support the use of hyperbaric oxygen or threshold electrical stimulation. And while there is theoretical evidence supporting the use of cannabinoids and stem-cell therapy, there is currently no evidence to support usage specifically in cerebral palsy.


Complementary medicine Alternative medicine Alternative treatments Eastern medicine Osteopathic medicine 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel M. Thompson
    • 1
    • 2
  • William Lawrence Oppenheim
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of OrthopaedicsOrthopaedic Institute for Children/UCLALos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical CenterSanta MonicaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Freeman Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.AI DuPont Hospital for ChildrenWilmingtonUSA

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