Can CBD Relieve Cerebral Palsy Symptoms? | Studies Say Yes

CBD is being researched and utilized for many mental and physical treatments, including cerebral palsy. Physical therapists are increasingly using topical forms of CBD for adults and children with cerebral palsy, to aid in pain relief and healing. What steps should be taken for a physical therapy practice to use this emerging treatment? 

What is CBD? 

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana) behind THC, the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol.  

CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana. It is derived directly from hemp plants or created in a laboratory. Even with it being derived from marijuana, CBD does not cause people to get high; that’s THC’s activity. A World Health Organization report states, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” 

According to Angela D. Bryan, Ph.D., professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, CBD may impact individuals in many ways, including: 

  • Pain 
  • Fatigue  
  • Insomnia 
  • Stress
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 

Like most of the newer, natural substances being examined and experimented with to determine efficacy, many studies continue to show the therapeutic benefits CBD may possess. It’s being looked at as a complementary treatment to medications and physical therapies. 

With the upside possibilities of CBD, there are also cautions. Harvard Health indicated the chemical can manifest side effects including nausea, fatigue, and irritability. It can also interact with blood thinners.  

Regarding availability, state laws have been increasingly allowing the sale and use of CBD. The driver behind the accepting legislation is the 2018 Farm Bill, making hemp legal in the United States, paving the way to make CBD legal nationwide, along with FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approvals.  

CBD Treatment for Cerebral Palsy 

Cerebral palsy (CP) has often been studied with multiple sclerosis (MS), with both sharing characteristics of similar muscle spasms and stiffness of patients suffering from these conditions. 

Since the Farm Bill’s enactment, numerous studies have highlighted CBD oil as a potential treatment option for both MS and CP patients, particularly for treating its physical symptoms and managing associated conditions. 

Researchers have found high cannabinoid receptors in the basal ganglia and cerebellum — the areas that control motor function. CBD treatments could potentially improve the signaling of these targets to help improve muscle movements like tremors or spasms. 

The most promising studies show that CBD can significantly reduce CP symptoms including muscle spasms, pain, sleep difficulties, abrupt movements, and anxiety.  

Additionally, research has demonstrated that CBD could be helpful in treating associated conditions of arthritis and hypertension. In addition to controlling physical symptoms, CBD oil has shown usefulness with improved mental health. This effect is attributed to its anxiolytic and sleep-promoting properties.  

The catalyst for these benefits may rely on how CBD interacts with serotonin and GABA receptors, which play a role in regulating nerve cells. It can also mitigate pain signals by binding itself to TRPV-1 vanilloid receptors engaged in pain transmission to the brain. 

CBD and Physical Therapy Benefits for Cerebral Palsy  

As a frontline treatment for PT, there are constant efforts to discover new options to provide patients with increasingly beneficial care. CBD oil used with flexibility exercises and massage may add to the effectiveness, for both patient and therapist. CBD builds up in a person’s system through ongoing dosing. As a therapist applies topicals with their hands, they may receive pain relieving benefits through this transdermal transmission.  

CBD topicals have been increasingly used by physical therapists as part of their treatment of CP, based on published evidence of pain and seizure relief, along with healing. Another appeal of it is related to its favorable safety profile, compared to muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, and opiates.  

Educating PT Staff About CBD 

Prior to incorporating hemp-derived CBD products in a PT practice, it is wise to educate therapists on this treatment option. As an emerging medication, discussions will likely arise among therapists and patients regarding the efficacy and any potential side effects. The trust PTs build in those they treat, along with their families, is vital to maintain. All should be comfortable with this treatment prior to its usage.  

As an educational asset, this resource from Harvard University Health, “Cannabidiol (CBD) – What We Know and What We Don’t” supplies information on CBD and its uses.  

Another element of incorporating CBD products into practice is to determine when and how they’ll be used. Instilling confidence is important for everyone involved; having a uniform policy for its use should help with making treatment decisions.  

Meeting Increasing Demand for CBD Treatments  

As research is studying the range of benefits of CBD being used with physical therapy, this could facilitate the need to scale practices to meet increasing demand. 

The difficulty is capacity – how to treat more people while tending to full caseloads and a shrinking labor market?   

Automating repetitive process activities is a tangible way to treat more patients by increasing billable hours with existing staff, without burning them out. It also reduces administrative time and costs, minimizing operational errors. Billing revenue cycle time is improved, positively increasing cash flow.   

Automating PT functions starts with administrative patient management, session documentation, and reimbursement billing workflow. These are all functions of PT-focused Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems. These custom-configured systems also provide an enhanced patient, client, and caregiving family experience. They can conveniently interact with you through a dedicated patient portal and digitally complete all documentation directly on the platform.  

To see the capabilities of a PT-focused EHR, have a look.  

Contact an EHR Software Expert

At Qualifacts, we are committed to serving behavioral health, rehabilitative (PT/OT/SLP), and human services organizations by providing top-rated EHR solutions and services. Our team consists of seasoned professionals with hands-on clinical and administrative experience in these vital service areas. We understand the unique challenges you face and are here to assist you in selecting the most suitable solutions for your organization’s needs. Let’s kickstart the conversation that can transform your services. Complete this brief form to get started.