While cerebral palsy is not typically a disease that descends on a person once their older. Usually present since birth or a young age, when people with cerebral palsy get older, they should be aware that it can cause additional issues as they age. In addition, there can be coexisting conditions that need to be addressed.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a disorder that normally occurs as a result of a birth injury or it can be caused by one of the several disorders that affect a person’s brain and nervous system. Due to medical advances in the treatment of cerebral palsy, sufferers are now living longer than ever before. That means they must learn how to deal with the effects of cerebral palsy combined with age-related diseases.
Some common issues people with cerebral palsy face as they age include:
- An increase in their pain level
- Walking issues do to pain
- A greater risk of falling and injuring themselves
- Dental issues
- Complications from years of taking medications
- Impaired motor function
When someone with cerebral palsy becomes an adult, meaning sometime between the ages of twenty and forty, they can experience premature aging. This is caused by the stress and additional strain that their bodies experience by simply completing normal daily tasks.
It has been shown that someone with cerebral palsy uses five times more energy than someone without the disease when they move or walk. Because of this, they can begin to see symptoms such as stiff muscles, difficulty walking, increased pain, and side effects due to the number of surgeries or medications that can go hand-in-hand with the disease.
Physical therapy can help reduce stiffness somewhat if the therapy is done early on. There are also surgical options. With surgery, the cerebral palsy sufferer may find they have increased mobility and less pain. This can also help the person live more independently.
Trouble Swallowing and Cerebral Palsy
Trouble swallowing, also called dysphagia, is one side effect of cerebral palsy. It is normally caused by esophageal issues. For example, a person’s esophagus might have trouble moving both food and liquids into the person’s stomach.
Symptoms of dysphagia include:
- Sore throat
- Hoarse voice
This issue can be dealt with by changing the consistency of the food, medications, and in the most serious of cases, surgery.
Depression and Cerebral Palsy
Depression can be a common side effect of cerebral palsy. This is especially true as people begin to get older. In fact, people with cerebral palsy, as well as other disabilities, have a rate of depression that is up to four times as high as those people without a disability.
Often, the depression is more about a person’s coping mechanisms instead of the disease they are suffering from. There are treatment options, however. From therapy to medications, to support groups, there are ways for a patient with cerebral palsy to deal with their depression.
The wonders of medicine have made it possible for the cerebral palsy patient to live a longer and more normal life, but it does come with some additional challenges as they age.
Have you or a loved one dealt with aging with cerebral palsy? What have you found to be the most difficult challenge? How have you overcome it? Let us know in the comments below.