In the past, many children with cerebral palsy (CP) did not survive into adulthood. Advances in medical technology have thankfully addressed this tragic problem and today the life expectancy of a person with CP is comparable to that of the general population.
Though CP is not a progressive condition, adults with CP do show an increased rate of chronic health conditions as well as changes to swallowing ability, a higher risk of musculoskeletal issues, a reduction of physical activity and a decline in strength and functional ability. It is crucial that adults with CP regularly visit with medical professionals to detect such issues as early as possible to result in better health outcomes.
Adults with CP often experience premature ageing, which occurs due to the excessive amount of stress and strain put on their bodies to carry out everyday tasks; people with CP can use as much as five times the energy of able-bodied people when moving and walking. Symptoms of premature ageing can include an increase in pain, stiffness of muscles, a higher risk of falling, issues with dental health and long-term side effects from medication and/or surgery.
Musculoskeletal problems that were not present in earlier life can appear in adults with CP; such problems can affect the ability to walk. Conditions like degenerative arthritis often occur, along with an increased risk of nerve entrapment and overuse syndromes.
Such complications certainly do not affect every adult with CP and a significant proportion are able to live independently, assisted by things like mobility aids, transfer equipment, modifications within the home and, in some cases, personal assistance with certain problematic tasks. Many adults with CP are able to live fulfilling lives and people with the condition can be found in all aspects of working life.
In the vast majority of cases, CP does not affect fertility and many adults with the condition are perfectly able to have children of their own. A very small minority of CP cases are caused by genetic disorders and so the condition is rarely hereditary.
Some people with CP can have problems forming relationships due to issues with things like depression, social anxiety and low self-esteem. There are numerous support networks to help people with CP with these problems and to make contacts in a safe space, helping to avoid loneliness in adulthood.
Wearing dynamic compression garments such as Suits, gauntlets and socks from the SDO® (Sensory Dynamic Orthosis) collection by Jobskin® can offer vast therapeutic benefits to adults with CP, helping to improve function and manage the symptoms. Find out more about the SDO® collection on our website and get in touch with our dedicated clinical team for further information.