A research clinic that will pioneer new ways to treat cerebral palsy has been created at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.
Children from around the world who suffer from the disorder will be treated at the Roanoke-based institute, organizers said Thursday in announcing the effort.
“We do not accept the notion that damage to the brain is irreversible, or that treatment should only be for a select few,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the institute.
Cerebral palsy involves the loss or impairment of motor function or posture. It is caused by injury or abnormal development in the brain that happens before, during or immediately after birth.
To help affected children use their impaired arms and legs, researchers at the institute have developed a form of high-intensity therapy.
Children with hemiparesis — a weakness on one side of the body caused by an injury to the opposite side of the brain — will undergo a form of therapy in which their stronger arm and hand are placed in a cast to encourage development of the weaker limb.
“We are bilateral human beings, and the ability to stand and walk depends on both sides working well,” said Sharon Ramey, who will co-direct the clinic with fellow Virginia Tech professor Stephanie DeLuca.