What is Bobath therapy?


Bobath therapy is internationally recognised as being effective for children and adults with all types of cerebral palsy, regardless of their accompanying disabilities or age.

It is a trans-disciplinary approach where the therapists (physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists) work together as a team in a holistic way to address an individual's needs. Therapy is available to anyone living in Scotland, and usually takes place at the Bobath Centre in Glasgow.

The aim of the therapy is to look at the specific difficulties a person has in participating in ordinary activities, and find practical solutions that can be incorporated into everyday life.

Therapy at the Bobath Centre starts with analysing what a person does already, how they do it, and what is getting in the way of them progressing to the next stage or learning how to do new activities.

How does Bobath therapy help?

  • Therapy can focus on improving a child’s ability to move, e.g. to roll, reach with their arms, sit up, stand or walk, to better control their posture such as to be able to sit upright and use their hands; and to maintain and improve mobility of joints and muscles. For adults it may help to reduce pain, or remove the need for painful surgery.
  • Bobath therapy frequently makes use of play to develop skills enabling children to move and use their eyes and hands more effectively so they can dress, eat, read, write and play with friends.
  • This type of therapy can also help a child find ways to communicate effectively, whether it’s through speech, or non-verbal means. It can also focus on eating and drinking in a safe and enjoyable way.
  • Bobath therapy also looks at how small improvements or exercises can be fitted into the normal pattern of daily life, so it’s easier to keep up with progress beyond the intensive therapy blocks.

What to expect

Bobath therapy is usually offered as an intensive therapy block of 18 x 1 hour sessions over 6 weeks. If it's for a child, parents or carers will attend and during the first appointment the therapist will spend time getting to know the child. They will ask questions about what the child can do, what they and their carers find difficult and what they would like to be able to do. For adults the process is much the same, the focus is on what would represent progress.

The therapist may use some specific standardised assessments and outcome measures to look at these areas in more detail. If the child and family, or client are in agreement they may also take some video to take a closer look at the movements in question. Goals will be identified providing a focus for therapy, and which can be evaluated at the end of the therapy block.

Although everyone will have one ‘key’ therapist, it may be appropriate for more than one therapist to work with the child or adult. This may be due to their complex needs or in order to provide a combination of input. Everyone at Bobath is a CP specialist in their own field (Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy) and on top of that, trained in the Bobath Concept approach.

Therapy sessions involve a variety of activities, some of which should be continued at home. These are demonstrated, and there is be an opportunity for parents/carers to try these out under the guidance of a therapist until they feel confident enough to carry out at home.

The aim is to complement input from the local physiotherapist or occupational therapist and co-ordinate aims and management. This is why Bobath invite each child’s community therapist(s), nursery and school staff and other professionals involved in their care to join some of the Bobath therapy sessions.

The team contact community therapists in advance of a child’s attendance at Bobath Scotland to establish progress, discuss any concerns and consider these factors when planning therapy aims.

Accessing Bobath therapy

Families can be referred for therapy through the NHS, or can self- fund. You can find guidelines for self-funding or fundraising here. Help with funding is available through the Right Start project and the Helping Hands scheme for adults.

Finding a therapist

For more details about Bobath Therapy in Scotland call 0141 352 5000, email info@bobathscotland.org.uk or visit bobathscotland.org.uk for more details.

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