Assistive Communication Devices and Applications for Children With Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy can result in some or many of a wide array of impairments or developmental delays, some minor, others major. For many children with CP, the ability to communicate effectively can be a real challenge. This may be the result of cognitive impairments, where they struggle with vocabulary and idea processing, or it may be more about the motor skills that govern the mouth, lips and tongue. CP related hearing impairments can also have a profound effect on a child’s ability to communicate. Learning complex language and speech skills is uniquely human. So is the ability to invent and utilize adaptive devices to aid those who struggle with this process.

Children develop and use language at roughly their own pace, but a child who fails to meet certain developmental milestones for communication should be tested for speech and hearing issues. Babies should react to sound from birth and even look towards the source of a sound by 6 months. If a child isn’t hearing sound well enough to react to it, they will have a difficult time learning to speak. Hearing screenings are available to infants of any age.

In our highly technical world, many new techniques and devices have been developed aimed at assisting young people with hearing and speech impairments in their efforts to communicate. AAC (Augmented and Alternative Communication) strategies and devices exist in many formats from high-tech to low-tech. With the proliferation of highly sophisticated assistive devices comes the fear that children will lose their motivation to attempt speech.

Before choosing which specific method of intervention or technology will be of greatest benefit to your child with cerebral palsy, seek the nearest rehabilitation or teaching hospital that offers evaluation and assistance in choosing AAC systems. Many of them offer assistive technology clinics where teams of AAC specialists along with speech pathologists, occupational and physical therapists can work directly with AAC technology vendors to design a service plan customized for your child. Having all these professionals under one roof streamlines the process by facilitating effective communications between professionals you might otherwise have to visit individually in multiple cities. The result is an AAC system customized specifically to your child’s abilities and needs and the training that both you and your child will need.

Science has made mind-boggling advances over the past decade and there’s no end in sight. Laboratories have developed brain/computer interface systems that provide communication and control capabilities to individuals with severe motor disabilities.

VOCAs (voice output communication aids), such as those used by famous physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking, allow individuals with severe speech impairments to communicate verbally by using voice synthesizers filtered through computers, including laptops and hand-held devices.

It’s an undeniable fact that people with severe speech and motor impairments are having their lives changed for the better as a result of these amazing advancements in the field of assistive technology and augmentative communications. Some of the more impressive AAC devices and assistiveware applications on the market today include: Proloque, Proloque2Go, KeyStrokes, TouchChat, TouchStrokes, SwitchXS, LayoutKitchen, Minspeak, VisioVoice, GhostReader, Digit-Eyes, Pictello. Go to each products website to learn more about what systems the work on and other details.

Assistive Communication Devices and Applications for Children With Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy can result in some or many of a wide array of impairments or developmental delays, some minor, others major. For many children with CP, the ability to communicate effectively can be a real challenge. This may be the result of cognitive impairments, where they struggle with vocabulary and idea processing, or it may be more about the motor skills that govern the mouth, lips and tongue. CP related hearing impairments can also have a profound effect on a child’s ability to communicate. Learning complex language and speech skills is uniquely human. So is the ability to invent and utilize adaptive devices to aid those who struggle with this process.

Children develop and use language at roughly their own pace, but a child who fails to meet certain developmental milestones for communication should be tested for speech and hearing issues. Babies should react to sound from birth and even look towards the source of a sound by 6 months. If a child isn’t hearing sound well enough to react to it, they will have a difficult time learning to speak. Hearing screenings are available to infants of any age.

In our highly technical world, many new techniques and devices have been developed aimed at assisting young people with hearing and speech impairments in their efforts to communicate. AAC (Augmented and Alternative Communication) strategies and devices exist in many formats from high-tech to low-tech. With the proliferation of highly sophisticated assistive devices comes the fear that children will lose their motivation to attempt speech.

Before choosing which specific method of intervention or technology will be of greatest benefit to your child with cerebral palsy, seek the nearest rehabilitation or teaching hospital that offers evaluation and assistance in choosing AAC systems. Many of them offer assistive technology clinics where teams of AAC specialists along with speech pathologists, occupational and physical therapists can work directly with AAC technology vendors to design a service plan customized for your child. Having all these professionals under one roof streamlines the process by facilitating effective communications between professionals you might otherwise have to visit individually in multiple cities. The result is an AAC system customized specifically to your child’s abilities and needs and the training that both you and your child will need.

Science has made mind-boggling advances over the past decade and there’s no end in sight. Laboratories have developed brain/computer interface systems that provide communication and control capabilities to individuals with severe motor disabilities.

VOCAs (voice output communication aids), such as those used by famous physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking, allow individuals with severe speech impairments to communicate verbally by using voice synthesizers filtered through computers, including laptops and hand-held devices.

It’s an undeniable fact that people with severe speech and motor impairments are having their lives changed for the better as a result of these amazing advancements in the field of assistive technology and augmentative communications. Some of the more impressive AAC devices and assistiveware applications on the market today include: Proloque, Proloque2Go, KeyStrokes, TouchChat, TouchStrokes, SwitchXS, LayoutKitchen, Minspeak, VisioVoice, GhostReader, Digit-Eyes, Pictello. Go to each products website to learn more about what systems the work on and other details.

An Overview of Growth Hormone Issues in Children With Cerebral Palsy

We’ve all heard the horror stories about the abuse of HGH (human growth hormones) in aspiring athletes the world over, but just because something gains its notoriety from abuse, doesn’t mean the same advances in science don’t have real value when manufactured, distributed and administered properly and legally. In this article we’re going to look at cerebral palsy’s effect on the body’s natural production of growth hormones and the use of replacement HGH therapy.

Unfortunately, when a parent learns their young child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the question that cannot be immediately answered is “what impact will this have on my child?” Because cerebral palsy can result from damage to different parts of the brain, only time will tell how, and to what degree, the disorder will manifest itself. Cerebral palsy commonly has physical manifestations, leading to compromised growth and physical development. Its effects can also be primarily cognitive, leaving the body to mature in a relatively proper and healthy manner. The child may be several years old before all symptoms can be detected.

Endocrine glands refer to the system in the body that secretes hormones directly into the blood stream. The endocrine system includes the pituitary gland, the pancreas, the testes, the ovaries, the adrenal glands and the thyroid. A hormone is a chemical that sends messages that affect cells in other parts of the body, facilitating functions such as growth and development, metabolism, sexual function, reproduction and mood. As the “master control gland,” the pituitary gland controls a number of important functions in the body and when compromised, can have many negative effects on the rest of the body.

There are no absolutes in cerebral palsy, but from birth to puberty, many children with CP demonstrate a slower rate of growth and delays in the onset of puberty. In 2010, a study was conducted by the School of Medicine of Santiago de Compostela, Spain to determine if this stunted growth might be the result of a deficiency in the secretion of natural growth hormones. It was determined that roughly 70% of the 46 children in the study lacked normal growth hormone secretion as a result of their cerebral palsy.

There are a number of growth receptors in the brain and central nervous system, including the hypothalamus and hippocampus. Studies, such as the one mentioned above, indicate that in children with cerebral palsy, the neurotransmitter pathways serving growth hormone control are impaired, limiting the normal and required levels of secretion.

Again, not all children with cerebral palsy have a growth hormone deficiency. Some of the symptoms to look for beginning around your child’s 3rd year include: 1) child is noticeably shorter than other children the same age 2) growth rate flattens or slows to less than 2 inches per year 3) delayed signs of puberty 4) facial features seem younger than children of same age and gender. If you suspect your child may be experiencing symptoms of slow growth, it may be the result of a dysfunctional pituitary gland. Pituitary disorders are treated by specialists called endocrinologists.

The conclusion that the short stature exhibited in many children with cerebral palsy is likely due to impaired or deficient growth hormone secretion is fairly recent, therefore recommendations that these children undergo growth hormone therapy is not without controversy. Most of us first heard of growth hormones when it was approved for use in the livestock industry. And while we’ve all heard of human’s injecting themselves with bovine GH, that’s not what we’re talking about. In the United States (and most of the world) the only artificial growth hormones approved for human consumption are human GH, manufactured by recombinant DNA technology (cloning). While it is legal if obtained from a pharmacy in administered by a medical professional, the long-term safety has yet to be tested in a clinical trial.

The therapy requires and almost daily injection of the HGH into subcutaneous tissue or muscle to get it into the blood stream. While less painful than it sounds, it can be prohibitively expensive, costing between $10,000 and $30,000 a year. It is not yet known if the therapy will need to be continued over a patient’s entire life.

Recent years have seen growth hormone therapy used successfully to treat certain children suffering from linear growth failure as a result of cerebral palsy. Consult with an endocrinologist to learn of new developments in this type of therapy and to see if it might be the right choice for your child.