Complementary Medicine and Alternative Medicine

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More so than ever, people – and the medical community – are enhancing traditional medical practices with alternative and complementary forms. As the medical community explores and researches CAMs, more options are being intertwined with treatment plans. Whether its massage therapy or chiropractic intervention, a person with Cerebral Palsy can often benefit from perspectives that are outside of, but not opposed to, traditional medical interventions.

Complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, and Cerebral Palsy

Complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, is an ever-expanding and constantly evolving group of diverse health care systems, practices and products that are not yet considered part of generally accepted conventional medicine.

Complementary medicine differs from conventional medicine in that the processes have not yet been fully tested or approved by the medical community.

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, the term “complementary medicine” refers to a treatment that is used in conjunction with conventional medicine. “Alternative medicine” refers to treatment that replaces conventional medicine. When complementary, alternative and conventional medicine are combined together for treatment purposes it is referred to as “integrated medicine.”

When pursuing complementary medicine or alternative medicine, it is strongly recommended that a primary care physician overseeing the treatment plan. For children with Cerebral Palsy, this usually involves the child’s pediatrician or neurologist or primary care doctor charged with overseeing the care of a child with Cerebral Palsy and coordinating care among the care team. They should always be apprised and approve of use and timing of the complementary and alternative treatment measures to ensure against any adverse or dangerous affects the CAM may have on the child’s ongoing treatment plan. The primary care physician will also monitor the treatment as part of the comprehensive treatment plan.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or NCCAM, is the nation’s leading government agency for scientific research of medical and health care systems, practices and products. Visit NCCAM for information on complementary medicine and alternative medicine, research, clinical trials, and CAM tips.

Six forms of complementary and alternative medicine

The field of complementary medicine and alternative medicine is divided into six categories. They are:

Biological-based therapies

Biological-based alternative treatments use substances that are found in nature. Echinacea and fish oil with omega 3s are common biological based therapies. These include amino acid, animal-derived extracts, botanicals, fatty acides, minerals, prebiotics, probiotics, proteins and vitamins.

Energy therapies

Energy therapies involve manipulation of energy fields (electromagnetic fields and biofields/putative fields) by channeling energy fields from the practitioner to the client to affect health and well-being. Energy therapy techniques include magnet therapy, light therapy, healing touch and Reiki.

Manipulative and body-based methods

In manipulative and body-based methods, the body systems and structures (bones, joints, soft tissues, circulatory system and lymphatic systems) are manipulated beyond their passive range of motion and with appropriate use of force. This method is commonly part of chiropractic and osteopathic medicine. Methods in this category include massage therapy and spinal manipulation.

Mind-body interventions

Mind and body methods attempt to use the mind techniques to affect physical function and to promote health. The concept of using the mind to treat illness is an important approach used in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine and referenced in moral and spiritual aspects of the healing process by Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine. Mind-body interventions include acupuncture, deep-breathing exercises, guided imagery, hypnotherapy, meditation, progressive relaxation, tai chi and yoga.

Movement therapies

Movement therapies use body movement control in promoting emotional, mental, physical and spiritual balance and well-being. There are a broad range of Eastern and Western movement methods including Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, Pilates, Rolfing Structural Integration and Trager Psychophysical Integration.

Whole medical systems

Whole medical systems are complete medical systems of theory and practice evolved in various cultures over time. They do not include Western medicine or conventional medicine. They instead include ancient whole medical systems such as Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, as well as modern whole medical systems such as homeopathy and naturopathy.

Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

therapy balls

Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

A person’s ability to transcend his or her physical limits is in no small part due to the kinds of therapies that are used to fine-tune his or her abilities. Therapy fosters functionality, mobility, fitness, and independence. The types of therapies vary based on a person’s unique needs, type of Cerebral Palsy, extent of impairment and associative conditions. Therapy can also help parents and caregivers.

Therapy for Cerebral Palsy includes