Adults with Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy affects adults too
Cerebral palsy is more commonly associated with children. But what happens as they grow older and need to be living on their own?
Cerebral palsy or CP attacks a child before or shortly after birth and that's it. Life has changed forever, damaged. It is a one-time condition that lasts for an entire lifetime.
Sadly, medical and research people easily forget that these children grow up and nobody seems to check on how they do as they reach mature age when people are supposed to be living independently. Statistics tell us that 90% of children with cerebral palsy become adults, and yet there has been very little research and intervention on cerebral palsy among adults.
Ageing with CP
People with cerebral palsy suffer mostly from motor deficiencies and mental retardation. They will grow old not having complete control of their minds and body.
According to statistics, about 75% to 95% of children with motor deficiency symptoms will live to be 30 years old, while 90 % of children with slight mental retardation will live to be 38 years old. Infants who suffered from CP at birth will grow old with the condition. It is a lifetime of challenge to the sufferer and a lifetime of care and compassion to the parents or caregivers.
The problems associated with these two common symptoms compound with age. Although CP is a non-progressive condition, meaning it does not worsen as does, for example, cancer or HIV-AIDS, a CP patient faces new problems and difficulties associated with old age. While cerebral palsy doesn't progress, aging does. As the patient gets older, muscle tightness, spasms, and other internal distresses associated with CP become harder to manage.
Not many doctors are prepared to handle the elderly with cerebral palsy and often just let them take care of themselves. There are little specialized training programs and research dedicated to the care of adults with cerebral palsy. Living life alone as an elderly is difficult enough, much more if one is suffering from brain damage.
An ageing CP patient needs you.
You need to be with the adult you love who is suffering from cerebral palsy. Spend time to encourage him/her so that he/she can maintain a positive personal attitude. Help him/her engage in meaningful activities and provide a supportive environment. Encourage him/her to eat healthy foods and regularly exercise to avoid any more illnesses related with old age. Give him or her a massage or better yet hire the services of a professional masseuse.
The care needed by the patient starts in you and the way you look at the situation. Keep in mind that people with disabilities are people first and should not be pushed to a corner in society. Give your loved-one or friend a lift by boosting his/her self esteem.
Not a disease
Cerebral palsy is not a disease. It is a condition, a general term that covers a variety of chronic movement disorders affecting body and muscle coordination due to an anomaly in the development of the brain. Its symptoms vary depending on how a patient reacts to it. Since it involves the brain, all areas of the body are affected and a wide range of disability aids is necessary.
A person with CP experiences a whole gamut of sufferings that include muscle tightness or spasms, jerks and involuntary movement, difficulty in walking, running, writing or performing simple tasks as buttoning a shirt, difficulty in perception and sensation, difficulties in feeding, poor bladder and bowel control, breathing problems, pressure sores, seizures, and learning disabilities or developmental delay.
This means a variety of disability aids is necessary, which may include a hearing aid, wheelchair, reach extender, chair lifts and gliders, handrails, and so on.
The whole idea behind using a disability aid is to enable a patient to live as independently as possible. It may take a person with CP longer to get dressed than an able-bodied person, but knowing that he or she can do it on his or her own is quite an uplifting experience. The activities that most people take for granted, like moving around the house independently, can be made a lot easier with a disability or mobility aid for a person with CP.
Preventing cerebral palsy
Because there is no cure to CP and no known cause, it is very important for pregnant mothers to maintain a healthy pregnancy. She can combat the possibility of giving birth to a child with CP by avoiding these things:
1. Premature birth; caesarian or breech delivery
2. Too long or too short labor that depletes supply of oxygen, which can damage brain tissues
3. German measles (Rubella)
4. Low birth weight and poor nutrition
5. Multiple births
6. A damaged placenta that could affect foetal growth
7. Sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, etc.
8. Smoking, drinking or taking drugs; exposure to anesthetics or analgesics
9. Mother and child have incompatible blood type
10. Chromosome abnormalities
Your child is not safe from brain damage until he reaches three. The following may damage a young child’s developing brain:
1. Infections such as meningitis
2. Brain hemorrhage
3. Head injury from a fall, car accident or abuse