Transanatomical Birthday Present – Meeting with Dr. Jaap van der Wal
One Giant Leap: The Science of Physical Rehabilitation: Re-Defining the Joint: Part 3

9 Valuable Lessons for Cerebral Palsy out of a Single Incident of a Broken Leg

This post might seem as a departure from matters of Cerebral Palsy – but it is definitely – not.

On opposite, I hope that you can see this as the opportunity to understand the fundamentals of rehabilitation domain much better once you have the exposure to the other side of the spectrum – how the surgery and physical therapy handle ‘regular’ fractured bones.

It is really important for you to keep in mind that – all the concepts, diagnostic criteria, best practices and tools of both orthopedic surgery and physical rehabilitation were forged and tested in the field of dealing with fractures, bone and joint displacements, muscle tears etc.

For instance I mentioned a number of times before – that deeply ingrained belief of physical therapy in the benefits of stretching and in the ability of a therapist to restore the proper mobility via stretching – stems from the practices of dealing with muscle contractures that follow the immobilization.

That’s where stretching works the best and every experienced physical therapist has an entire collection of ‘victories’ over contractures behind his or her belt. They witnessed with their own eyes how a severely restricted leg mobility consistently gets improved via stretching until full recovery within weeks.

That’s the experience and the expectation they transfer into the Cerebral Palsy field including quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. What happens then? – First, they see some 10-15-20% of range increase – they celebrate it and reinforce their believe in being on the right course. Second, when the range increase comes to a halt – they start blaming it on the spasticity and brain injury.

Therefore, when a friend of my son had his lower leg bones fractured in the go-cart accident – I waited for few weeks until he got out of pains and decided to seize this opportunity to illustrate the essential differences between the orthopedic handling, physical therapy, rehabilitation and  recovery of a healthy person after a typical injury to a musculoskeletal system – in contrast to the most important specifics of the challenges experienced by Cerebral Palsy kids especially in quadriplegic condition.

I hope that you are going to find this being a valuable perspective that will improve your understanding of the priorities for your own child and have a clearer focus of where you need to put the most of your efforts.

P.S. As always – please let me know what you think and whether this perspective is helpful. Don’t forget the ‘Like’ button as well.