No one wants to think that their child may end up with cerebral palsy.
However, for those unfortunate individuals who find out their child has it, their first question is always, “Will they be ok?” The good news is that cerebral palsy usually doesn’t claim the lives of those who suffer from it. This isn’t a terminal disorder. In fact, the vast majority of people who have it will live late into adulthood.
Still, their lives will obviously be affected by the malady and this could even play a role in their overall life expectancy. For a better idea of how it might factor in, let’s take a look at various factors that affect life spans of those with cerebral palsy.
Someone with cerebral palsy can suffer from any number of impairments. Some may only have one while others will have closer to a dozen. This is one of the things that make managing the disorder so difficult when looking at people with cerebral palsy as a population.
Number of Impairments
The more impairments someone has, the more there is for a caretaker to handle properly and control for. This can affect the age a person will live for.
There are also associated conditions to consider. Something like seizures can also factor into someone’s long-term prognosis.
Obviously, no two impairments are the same, and some are much easier to manage and treat than others. Therefore, the sheer number isn’t what you should worry about, so much so as how the various disorders show up in the child’s everyday life.
Severity of the Cerebral Palsy
This dovetails nicely with what we were just talking about. One individual with cerebral palsy may have trouble speaking while another may have trouble speaking and also struggle to eat. Those two impairments, while both localized in the mouth and throat, aren’t going to have the same ramifications. The latter person is going to have a more difficult time.
However, it’s also important to recognize that the kinds of impairments people with cerebral palsy suffer from can also be a sign of something else going on under the surface. Someone’s symptoms could seem only mild, but they could be connected to a more severe problem in that individual’s head.
For truly severe cases, babies born with cerebral palsy could die prematurely, perhaps making it to becoming a toddler. Those with extreme cases of brain damage, spasticity, quadriplegia or quadriparxsis are at the greatest risk.
Those symptoms of cerebral palsy that limit an individual’s ability to get around could reduce that person’s lifespan. For one thing, it means they’ll have to depend on others throughout their day, every day. Those with quadriplegia will be most at risk of living fewer years because they lack movement in their limbs and torso.
Problems with Feeding
Along the same lines, children who can eventually feed themselves will be much better off than those who have trouble or can’t at all. Obviously, when someone doesn’t eat, they may eventually get to the point of suffering from malnutrition. This weakens the immune system and can even trigger muscle deterioration.
Children who aren’t able to eat on their own might also suffer from problems chewing and swallowing, the latter symptom being a choking hazard that could affect life expectancy.
Again, it’s important to keep in mind the good news: cerebral palsy doesn’t lead to reduced years for those who have it. It’s also worth remembering that there are more ways than ever before to help those people live fulfilling lives. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, then be sure to follow your doctors’ orders, and they should live to a ripe, old age.