Cerebral Palsy

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 can be achieved already, how it’s achieved, and what is getting in the way of someone progressing towards their goal or learning something new.

How does Bobath therapy help?

  • Therapy can focus on improving the ability to move, so for a child 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 for a young person or adult, to maintain and improve mobility of joints and muscles. 
  • 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

For Children

Bobath therapy is usually offered as an intensive therapy block of sessions over 6 weeks. Children attend the centre with their parents/carers and during the first appointment the therapist will spend time getting to know the child. They 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.

The therapist may use some specific standardised assessments and outcome measures to look at these areas in more detail. If the child and family are in agreement they may also take some video to see how the child moves. Goals will be identified with the family, which will provide 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. Which 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.

For Adults

For adults, the process is very similar, the therapy is about helping you to reach a goal, whether that’s increased movement, reduced pain, or improving your ability to do something you enjoy.

The knowledge of your own condition and how to manage it can make a huge difference to staying well. Bobath Scotland provides a full range of services for adults with cerebral palsy, whether you would just like a consultation, a refresher session or need intensive therapy. Some of the services are funded by trusts and foundations and are provided at either no cost or a greatly subsidised cost to service users.

Adult therapy is for any person above 18 years of age who lives in Scotland and who has a primary diagnosis of cerebral palsy. 1st assessments are free and Bobath are happy to speak to anyone who has a query about the management of cerebral palsy in adults.

Bobath Scotland offer the following range of services for adults:

  • 1st Assessments
  • Intensive therapy
  • Regular therapy
  • Personal consultations
  • Home visits
  • Self-Management Groups

Accessing Bobath therapy

Adults and families alike 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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