Conditions Commonly Affecting Individuals Aging With Cerebral Palsy

By on November 25, 2020
Cerebral palsy

Aging is a difficult process for many, especially if you have a disease that you have acquired from birth, such as cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a confluence of permanent movement disorders that manifest in early childhood as a result of brain injury or problems during pregnancy or childbirth. 

In decades prior, patients with cerebral palsy would only have a few years to live, but due to advancements in healthcare, there have been various treatment options as listed by Tinker Law Firm. As a result, it is now common to see older adults with cerebral palsy. While this is welcome progress, there are still multiple hurdles these individuals have to overcome 

The Challenges of Dealing With Cerebral Palsy

Most individuals with cerebral palsy who successfully survive into their adulthood have to face a number of general health issues, including the following:

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Cardiac and Pulmonary Morbidity

Patients with cerebral palsy are at a higher risk for developing chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes, emphysema, hypertension, stroke, and other health conditions. For those aged 40 to 60 years old, the risk of having multiple conditions is higher. Studies have also found that cerebral palsy patients with high gross motor functioning classification system (GMFCS) levels are also prone to developing more diseases. All of these health issues become more pronounced as they age. 

Poor Mobility

Cerebral palsy primarily affects the muscular system and those with this condition have higher rates of deterioration of their mobility due to osteoporosis and arthritis. For those without the condition, the most common onset of the symptoms begins at age 50. However, for those with cerebral palsy, symptoms can appear as early as 30 years old. As they grow older, the risk becomes higher, too. Those aged 50 years and above get a sixfold increase in developing osteoporosis and arthritis, along with being more prone to fragility fractures. 

Chronic Pain

Aging with cerebral palsy also means suffering from chronic pain. One study showed that adults with cerebral palsy below 50 years old would complain of frequent neck and back pains. They would also have frequent numbness and joint pains. Adults with cerebral palsy would often have problems with fatigue that it may already be difficult for them to carry out activities of daily living even at a young age. 

Nutritional Challenges

Individuals aging with cerebral palsy are most commonly suffering from malnutrition, particularly in those with severe functional disability. For children with this condition, the difficulty of swallowing is a huge issue they have to deal with. For adults, there is also an increased risk of deterioration in their food intake, despite maintaining the same dietary patterns from childhood. As they age, dealing with mealtimes can be problematic, and most of them experience this as early as the age of 30. A decline in their swallowing capabilities also predisposes them to an increased risk for aspiration.

Mental Issues

Children with cerebral palsy often have their families for support. As they age, their circle becomes smaller, and they may find it hard to socialize due to their condition. Even for those between the ages of 20 and 30 years old, socialization has become an issue, leading to a low quality of life as they go into adulthood. 

All these general health issues affect individuals with cerebral palsy. As they age with the condition, the symptoms become more pronounced, which is why it’s necessary for them to have access to medical services and treatments that would allow them to lead a better life as they enter late adulthood.

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Conditions Commonly Affecting Individuals Aging With Cerebral Palsy