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What are the Challenges of Cerebral Palsy in Adults?

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  • Written By: Amanda Piontek
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Cerebral palsy in adults can present many unique and unresolved challenges. Medical professionals do not yet have a clear view of how to manage all the issues relevant to an individual with cerebral palsy. Health problems such as arthritis, strained organs, and fatigue can plague patients as they grow older. The disease can affect a person's ability to work or care for him or herself, and aging parents and family members may no longer be available for intensive assistance and care. Ongoing research in the field provides physicians, patients, and their families with hope for new treatments and therapies. A better understanding of the disease will serve to address many of the challenges faced by cerebral palsy in adults.

A person diagnosed with cerebral palsy most often experiences an extreme strain on the systems of his or her body. Premature aging is normal and frequently seen in adults with this condition by the time they reach the age of 40. Organs like the heart and lungs may not have developed fully, and have spent decades working in overdrive to respond to the demands of the body. Arthritis is also commonly associated with cerebral palsy in adults, due to years of disproportionate joint compression and a limited range of motion.

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Cerebral palsy in adults can cause fatigue that interferes with the individual's ability to work or care for him or herself. The complications associated with cerebral palsy and growing older, like premature aging and arthritis, can be draining and difficult to live with. Additionally, the simple act of moving around requires a person living with this disease to exert three to five times the amount of energy as an average person. This extreme strain can limit a person's ability to work in traditional employment.

A person affected by cerebral palsy may have had a large support system as a child. Parents are usually available and involved in the upbringing of a child with a developmental or physical illness, and cerebral palsy is no exception. One challenge that occurs with cerebral palsy in adults is the aging of the patient's parents and family. The individual's parents may no longer be living, or could be handling their own medical issues related to aging.

Cerebral palsy support groups can be instrumental in assisting an adult living with the disease. Without support, it can be difficult for the person to navigate issues like employment, health care, insurance, and living arrangements. Group homes are an option for people who suffer from severe cerebral palsy, and require daily, hands-on assistance with self-care and feeding.

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