Cerebral palsy is a condition that causes permanent movement disorders.
Depending on the type of cerebral palsy a person has, and its severity,
symptoms may include difficulties with coordination and balance, excessively
stiff muscles, weak muscles, and involuntary movement of muscles. Other
issues, including problems with speaking, swallowing, hearing, vision,
and seizures may also be present.
Cerebral palsy occurs when the brain develops abnormally or when it is
damaged in areas that are responsible for movement, posture, and balance.
Unfortunately, cerebral palsy commonly occurs as a result of preventable
birth injuries in which physicians, nurses, and other health care providers
present during delivery or shortly after birth fail in their legal obligations
to provide an acceptable standard of care. These failures, such as not
recognizing fetal distress, can result in oxygen deprivation, brain damage,
and cerebral palsy.
Children with cerebral palsy, as well and their families, can face many
life-long challenges. Often, these challenges will require medical care,
accommodations, and specialized treatment or therapy. As the condition
typically presents itself early on in a child’s life, within the
first year or two, there is a great deal of information available about
helping children and their families cope with the challenges they face.
As such, many people are not fully aware of how cerebral palsy and aging relate.
The truth of the matter is that cerebral palsy is a non-degenerative condition,
which means that the condition itself will not get worse with age. The
brain damage that occurs during pregnancy or birth will remain the same
throughout a person’s life. Today, thanks in part to medical advancements,
many people with cerebral palsy live long lives. While the condition may
not worsen, there are unique concerns for people with cerebral palsy as
they age and cope with their lifetime disability.
People with cerebral palsy spend their entire lives battling their disability,
which means they can start feeling the effects of aging earlier than others
who do not have to live around physical impairments. For example, people
cerebral palsy commonly face the following physical problems as they get older:
Chronic pain – Living an active life despite a disability can put a lot of strain
on one’s body, which is why people with cerebral palsy most commonly
experience increased and chronic pain as they age. This includes pain
in the neck, back, hips, and knees, as well as early development of arthritis.
Problems with mobility – As much as a quarter of people with cerebral palsy who were able
to walk at young ages do not walk when they get older. This is often due
to increased pain or arthritis, as well as convenience that comes with
using a wheelchair.
Falls – Falls are the leading cause of injury among older Americans, and
it can be a particular concern for aging people with cerebral palsy. Problems
with balance, coordination, and decreased mobility can increase risks