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Why I Chose MAES Therapy for My Child With Cerebral Palsy

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In the never ending challenge to help my son, Julian, live a better life with cerebral palsy, we attended a week-long session of Movement Analysis and Education Strategies (MAES) therapy in London. Initially it was difficult to see how this therapy might help. It seemed far too passive to have any effect on Julian’s high spasticity. After several days, however, it became apparent how brilliantly effective and valuable this form of therapy is.

I wish we had tried it earlier.

What is MAES therapy?

MAES therapy is a form of treatment used to help babies and children with various neuro-developmental conditions, such as cerebral palsy (CP). In order to achieve a physical goal early in life, a child with CP will accommodate and compensate for his brain’s inability to control movement correctly and efficiently. The child will inevitably take the path of least resistance and challenge. This can result in poor movement or bad posture that can be compounded over subsequent years. Over time, muscular control can worsen and ultimately lead to secondary complications.

Current mainstream physiotherapy addresses the child’s physical limitation head-on to achieve a certain result. To attain that result, mainstream physiotherapy uses stretches, balancing challenges, coordination skills and strength building. This approach focuses on proper movement and does not work directly with the cause.

MAES therapy takes a massive step outside of the traditional physiotherapy approach and mode of thought. MAES addresses the underlying cause. I suppose you could say that MAES therapy is a purely cerebral form of physiotherapy — challenging the brain’s neuroplasticity instead of working directly with muscles.

Through gentle, continuous asymmetrical movements, MAES therapy challenges the brain so a child can develop new pathways. Simply put, during MAES treatment, the brain is forced to leave its comfort zone and learn new skills.

MAES therapy won’t replace Julian’s physiotherapy, but it will most certainly be added to the roster.

Originally published: December 17, 2018
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