Guide To The Treatment Options For Periventricular Leukomalacia

Periventricular leukomalacia is a brain injury that occurs in infants. Infants are more likely to develop this brain injury if they have a low birth weight and are born prematurely. The damage occurs in the white matter surrounding the ventricles. White matter is responsible for transmitting messages from the nerves to the brain and vice versa. This injury can cause many different issues. It depends on the areas of white matter that are affected. Due to this, children can have very different symptom presentations. Babies who have this injury may develop cerebral palsy. Some of the most common symptoms include motor issues, muscle tightness, vision issues, and developmental delays.

Treatment for periventricular leukomalacia varies based on a patient's symptoms. Of course, there are common options that most individuals will require at some point. This includes regular physical therapy for periventricular leukomalacia. Some patients may need occupational therapy as a treatment. Medications for periventricular leukomalacia may also be used. Ultimately, however, it is vital to review the common periventricular leukomalacia treatments with a doctor.

Physical Therapy

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Physical therapy treats a wide range of different motor issues, including those that develop with periventricular leukomalacia. If a child experiences developmental delays, they may have trouble reaching milestones that other children do. They may also reach these milestones later than the average child. Infants typically achieve the ability to hold up their head at four months old, the ability to sit at six months old, and beginning to walk at around twelve months old. 

If a child is not exploring different kinds of movement, they may have delayed development. A physical therapist will evaluate the child's movement to determine which areas need work. They will then create a plan to help with the child's developmental skills. This plan includes parental guidance about how parents can help their child progress at home. Physical therapists can help children learn to move their muscles in certain ways. They also offer advice on how much practice the child will need to reach their developmental milestones.

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Speech Therapy

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Speech therapy is often used for children with periventricular leukomalacia or cerebral palsy. It also helps those who are having trouble meeting speech milestones. Studies indicate that over half of children with cerebral palsy have speech issues of the spastic, ataxic, and athetoid variety. Examples of these include words that sound slurred; problems controlling throat, neck, and face muscles; and breathy, monotone speech with unusual accelerations and pauses, respectively. 

Speech therapists help increase motor skills, strengthen muscles related to speech, and improve a child's understanding of language. Some speech therapists may be able to help children who experience swallowing disorders. The goal of speech therapy is to improve a child's ability to communicate their thoughts and feelings. It can help with social development, cognitive development, problem-solving, and emotional development. Speech therapy can increase a patient's independence and encourage learning. 

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Occupational Therapy

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Occupational therapy is another treatment for children with this condition and those who develop cerebral palsy due to it. The occupational therapist's role will vary depending on the symptoms. This form of therapy focuses on teaching patients the skills necessary to develop and gain independence. With children, therapists focus on improving their capacity for learning and playing. An occupational therapist may teach a child to do tasks that require fine motor function. Examples are brushing their teeth and eating. They may also help children who struggle to process sensory information. This is in addition to helping with cognitive function.

Children who do occupational therapy have an increased chance of independence and improved quality of life. They may also feel a sense of accomplishment and be more confident. By improving their ability to learn and play, they can develop other skills more easily. Occupational therapy also reduces the strain on caregivers and parents because they do not need to help with the same number of day-to-day tasks. 

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Assistive Devices

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Children with periventricular leukomalacia may benefit from using assistive devices to help manage their symptoms. These are devices and equipment used to help individuals function. There are also adaptive devices, which have been altered so that patients with disabilities can use them more easily. A child with cerebral palsy caused by periventricular leukomalacia will often need assistive devices to become independent. This technology can help children perform better academically and have a more engaging social life. It will also help them be included in more activities, express their emotions more easily, and feel more confident. 

Children may use mobility devices like braces, walkers, and wheelchairs. When children struggle with using their hands, they may benefit from electric wheelchairs. Many adaptive devices are used to help with communication as well, with and without speech. Communication boards allow children to show their ideas through pictures. Speech-generating devices can also be used for children who struggle to use their muscles to create words. Writing and typing devices are available to help children who struggle to hold pens and type on keyboards.

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Medication

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No medication can treat the condition itself. Thus, medications may be used to reduce the severity of certain symptoms. The best medication regimen will be different depending on the child's symptoms. Children may be prescribed anticholinergics to treat uncontrolled spasms, tremors, and spasticity. Anticonvulsants may also help with these issues. They can also help if children experience seizures related to their brain injury.

Antidepressants may be used to help children who struggle with low mood or emotional regulation. Pain is a common part of cerebral palsy caused by periventricular leukomalacia, as the tightened muscles often become inflamed. Anti-inflammatories may be prescribed to help relieve this pain and inflammation. Stool softeners can help with bowel movements in children who suffer from digestive issues. 

Katherine MacAulay