Less than 60 years ago, it was unusual for children with cerebral palsy to survive to adulthood. Because of today’s medical advances and technologies, between 70 and 90 percent of people with cerebral palsy now live well into their adult lives. While that is great news, it also means that health and functional problems that didn’t used to exist for people with cerebral palsy, now do.
If you have a child who has cerebral palsy, you likely wonder what life will be like for him or her as an adult. There are challenges that adults who have cerebral palsy face, some that start at a fairly young age. While some of the challenges may seem unsurmountable, there are many children who have cerebral palsy who now grow up and live well into adulthood while dealing with them. Some challenges can be overcome, while others must simply be accepted.
Here is a list of the most common challenges adults with cerebral palsy face:
Functional Issues at Work
More and more people who have cerebral palsy are able to hold down regular jobs just as their healthy counterparts do. It’s typically when they start closing in on middle age that the daily grind begins to get more difficult. While some people with cerebral palsy are able to keep working beyond middle age, others will need to consider working fewer hours, using additional assistive devices, or taking more frequent breaks throughout the day. Still others will find that early retirement might be necessary.
Depression is nearly 80 percent more likely to affect people with conditions like cerebral palsy than it is for the general population. This difference seems to be unrelated to the severity of their condition, but rather it’s related to how positively they deal with it. Those who have emotionally supportive family and friends tend to suffer from depression less than those who don’t.
Many adults who have cerebral palsy also suffer post-impairment syndrome, which consists of fatigue, weakness, and pain that result from muscle abnormality, repetitive motion injuries, bone defects, and arthritis. The fatigue that post-impairment syndrome entails can be debilitating because people with cerebral palsy already expend more than three times the amount of energy than healthy people use for daily activities.
Most people with cerebral palsy will have some form of premature aging by the time they reach their late thirties or early forties because of the extra strain the condition puts on their bodies. Additionally, developmental delays associated with cerebral palsy sometimes keep organs from growing to their full capacity and level of performance. That means that some organ systems like the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems, have to work much harder, causing them to age prematurely.
Sometimes it’s difficult for doctors to identify issues related to pain in people with cerebral palsy because they may have difficulty describing the exact location or extent of their pain. The pain they suffer may be acute or chronic, and is most often experienced in the joints of the arms and legs, hips, and lower and upper back. People who have spastic cerebral palsy tend to have more areas where they experience pain and more severe pain than those with other types of the condition. Correcting muscular and skeletal irregularities early in life will help prevent the accumulation of strain and stress that causes pain as a person gets older. When it is managed appropriately, the pain that is associated with cerebral palsy doesn’t have to become chronic. The key is to treat it early and preventatively.
Other Medical Conditions
As a person who has cerebral palsy ages, they are more likely to have other medical conditions that develop secondarily to their cerebral palsy such as incontinence, bladder problems, hypertension, and difficulty swallowing. Scoliosis (a condition that cause a curvature of the spine) is likely to progress after adolescence when bones have reached their maturity. Adults who have cerebral palsy are also more likely to have problems with their vision and eyesight that progress as they age.
Adults who have cerebral palsy must make it a priority to see their doctors regularly and have ongoing monitoring of their physical health and mobility. Concerns should be communicated to doctors so that they are able to rule out underlying conditions, or treat them promptly to stop them from advancing. Because it is now becoming normal for people with cerebral palsy to outlive their parents or caregivers, planning for future care is very important.
When Cerebral Palsy is Caused by Medical Mistakes
Some cases of cerebral palsy happen due to mistakes made by doctors, nurses, or other medical professionals. If you or a loved one is affected by cerebral palsy that should have been prevented, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a medical malpractice claim. Receiving a financial award for your case would go a long way toward the medical and living expenses that are incurred when someone in your family has cerebral palsy.
Ross Fell Casey, among the nation’s leading medical malpractice law firms, can help your family determine if your case of cerebral palsy was caused by medical errors or negligence. Call one of experienced cerebral palsy lawsuit attorneys today for your free case evaluation.