How early can I start?
A child with a brain injury needs intensive therapy and many different types of therapy. The first six years of life are the period of greatest brain growth, and this is why we recommend an intensive program to maximise development. Simply relying on weekly physiotherapy and some speech therapy will not produce the good results your child needs and deserves. The sooner you start, the better.
Where should I start?
No doubt you have a paediatrician and family doctor, who will care for your child’s health and measure progress. You should also seek local therapy services, such as Therapy ACT or NSW Health Department for physiotherapy, speech therapy and an occupational therapist. The Cerebral Palsy Alliance puts you in touch with services, such as children’s specialist services. These services are usually free.
Is this enough to take care of my child?
Unfortunately, it probably isn’t. Appointments are usually not frequent enough to make a major improvement. At this point, you need help to assess your child’s potential and seek extra therapy from a range of professionals. And you should keep in mind that anything less than three or four hours of therapy a day in the vital early years is probably not going to make much difference to your child’s outcome.
That sounds alarming. What else might my child need?
The families registered with Friends of Brain Injured Children have utilised a number of therapists, who have proved beneficial to their children.
The therapies used by our families with excellent results include:
- Nutritional therapy (for optimum brain development, physical development and weight maintenance)
- Massage, for pain relief, improved muscle tone and proper muscle development
- Acupressure, to redevelop pathways to the brain, aid walking, speech….
- Conductive Education, to train the child in movement and problem solving
- Intra-oral massage, to aid speech development
- Play group, for social activity and skill development
Do I have to use all these therapies?
Not at all. First we advise an assessment of your child’s needs. Friends of Brain Injured Children will pay for a visit to the Conductive Education expert, who will be able to suggest what therapies might be beneficial. We suggest that you find out more about them, speak to other parents, and develop your own therapy plan.
Why do I need a team? Who can help me here?
Over time you will probably find which therapies are the most useful to help your child reach his or her goals. You will find that some therapists are really helping, and these will be a vital part of your team. The best therapists of all will show you how you, too, can work with your child to achieve the best results. When parents and therapists work together real miracles can occur.
It sounds daunting. How will I get the time to do all this?
You must be clear about your goals. The years from 0 to 6 are the greatest development period for your child’s brain and body. Your child will hold most of the gains made in this period. A messier house for six years may be a small price to pay to take maximum advantage of this vital period.
Although we talk about providing hours of therapy at home each day, as well as visits to therapists, much of the home therapy is incorporated in what you do anyway. Good therapists show you ways to help your child sit, stand and move, ways that actually teach your child skills.
For instance, sleeping positions can be good or bad, so why not learn the best one. You feed your child anyway, so why not plan a diet rich in brain developing foods to repair damage. Your child has a bath – why not make it deep and hottish, followed by a massage?There are a thousand activities every day that can be used by knowledgeable parents to help their child to develop. It makes sense to learn what to do and thus become your child’s best therapist.
An important part of your team will be your family and friends. Try to include them in your goals, even just as cheerleaders. The more they know about what your are doing the more they can help. It is hard to keep up with your friends when you are so busy, but try. Most want to help you but aren’t sure how to. And make some new friends who have children in a similar situation. They are great allies and you can help each other with ideas and understanding.
FBIC helps families as much as it can with the expenses of these therapies.