|The speed of rehabilitation depends on the degree of severity of infantile
cerebral palsy and the resulting motor dysfunctions.
The necessity of creating new functional connections with the central
nervous system is a specific feature of rehabilitating patients with infantile cerebral palsy. This practically determines the minimum
time for rehabilitation, and can be easily understood from the following
example: Let us posit a seven-year old child who has spasticity or
muscular atony as a result of anomalous functioning of nerves connections
arising when the child was one year old. As a result of this condition,
the child cannot walk independently. What would happen [with this
child] if the abnormal nerve connections were turned off and normal genetic
programming were connected? Wouldn't this child begin to jump and
run like his playmates? Of course not. That child would need
to proceed through all phases of normal development of conditional reflexes
by developing mobility and reactions to all life situations. In addition,
the body's natural defense mechanisms would begin to complicate this process.
This child would be extremely aware of how painful it would be to fall
down. This would, in some instances, speed up and, in other instances,
hinder the process of developing normal mobility. Nonetheless, this
child would need to proceed through all stages of development of normal
mobility that his contemporaries have completed. Thus, even in ideal
circumstances, rehabilitation would require months and perhaps even years.
Realistically, anomalous [nervous system] connections and reflexes would
disappear only gradually, because the child would be continuously relearning.
From real life experience, it is clear that relearning incorrect movements
is much harder than simply learning new movements from start. Nonetheless,
progress in this process would itself be the greatest stimulus to development.