If you are currently one of the 764,000 people living with cerebral palsy (or know someone close to you living with it) I’m sure there is something always on your mind. What to expect for the future?
How can you prepare for the cerebral palsy symptoms adulthood will bring?
Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive disorder that doesn’t get worse over time. But people with CP put more stress on their bodies that many medical conditions. We see this as an individual matures and transitions into adulthood.
CP is commonly discussed as a condition in children. But these children go on to live regular adult lives just like everyone else. It’s important to know what the future will hold.
Since every case of CP is different, the symptoms each individual will experience with adulthood will be different as well. Some people go on to live independently while others live dependently requiring more assistance.
By beginning to take strides towards a better future today and preparing for what’s to come, you can be on your way to a happy and healthy life.
Finding the proper care and establishing ways to best cope with your varying symptoms is the best to go about it. Here’s what to expect in the future.
Cerebral palsy symptoms common in adults:
Premature aging is exactly as it sounds. It’s experiencing conditions and symptoms that people of older age usually experience but much earlier in life.
People with CP are usually in their 20-40s when they experience things people in their 50’s+ are diagnosed with.
It makes sense why this would happen. CP is a disorder affecting body movement and muscle coordination. It takes much more energy for someone living with CP to do a simple task than the average person.
Because of this, extra stress and tension are put on muscles and joints at an early age — greatly affecting the ability to perform properly as you grow older.
Premature aging could bring about: heightened pain, muscle stiffness, and a greater risk of falls and organ systems not developing properly.
Mental health disorders
Unfortunately, people living with CP experience much more stress than the average person. The impairment it puts on each individual is a lot to handle, and depending on the severity of your symptoms and state of mind, everyone will function differently.
As development into adulthood increases, it’s more common to see mental health disorders appear with CP. And, while anyone can be diagnosed with a mental health disorder, people with CP are at a higher risk.
A person living with CP may experience many things like; increased social anxiety, bullying, suicidal thoughts, and just find it much harder to cope. These are all factors that could lead to depression or anxiety.
If you are a caregiver or parent of someone with CP, it’s important to watch for any warning signs of a mental illness, and if spotted, seek out a psychologist or therapist ASAP.
Post-impairment syndrome is a pretty common cerebral palsy symptom experience in adulthood. It’s the combination of pain, fatigue, arthritis, and weakness due to muscle weakness or overuse of certain areas of the body.
As we said above, people living with CP exert 3 to 5 times more the energy to do a physical movement than the average person and this is where this syndrome stems from.
Sometimes this can’t be controlled and there’s no way to combat it. However, working with your occupational therapist and building your muscles to be as strong as possible is the best way to limit your chances of getting post-impairment syndrome.
Operation in the workplace
As the bodies of CP occupants become weaker as they approach adulthood, so will their ability to operate independently in the workplace.
Middle aged people living with CP usually find day-to-day challenges becoming much more difficult to complete. The other cerebral palsy symptoms listed above — like post-impairment syndrome and premature aging — may contribute to the lack of ability to operate in the workplace.
It’s important to point out that most people with CP are still able to function properly in the workplace, just with some adjustments here and there.
Fortunately, there is much more assisted technology out there now, so it’s much easier to access accommodations fairly easily. Accommodations could range from frequent rest periods, using a service dog, telephone assistance technology, adjusted work schedules and more.
There is the ADA (American with Disabilities) act out there working for us, which makes it illegal for a place of work to discriminate in interviews and during normal working conditions.
Bottom line, your workplace should be able to make the proper adjustments to suit your needs. If you ever feel you are being discriminated against, you should call and file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Other physical conditions
While the cerebral palsy symptoms described above are some of the most common among adults living with cerebral palsy, there are many other health conditions that can come about.
Increased pain is one thing many adults will experience which can be acute or chronic in nature. This is where getting the proper therapy to correct muscle abnormalities is very important in keeping pain to a minimum in the future. Pain could lead to a lot of discomforts or even surgery.
Musculoskeletal abnormalities could also appear in adulthood, in the form of Osteoarthritis and degenerative arthritis. These are both due to confined patterns of movement, excessive joint compression and overall limited strength. Ultimately, it could lead the lack of ability to walk properly and other challenges.
Be prepared and positive, you got this
Although this may sound like a lot, it’s important to remember that people living with CP are already extremely strong, brave and will be able to deal with most of these symptoms. Who knows, you may be able to live completely independently.
Keeping up a positive attitude and continuing to get the proper care and therapy are crucial in coping with cerebral palsy during adulthood.
Did you know that the life expectancy of an adult living with CP doesn’t drop? It’s just the same as an average human, keeping into account that you are keeping up with medical care.
Adulthood throws some bumps in the road for everyone. People with CP just have to make some extra adjustments to fulfill happy and positive lives. You can still live your lifelong dream.
Are you an adult living with CP or know someone who is? What are some cerebral palsy symptoms you are experiencing and how do you combat them? Contact us at the law offices of Joseph M. Lichtenstein!