Health Challenges of Patients with Adult Cerebral Palsy

May 5


Peter Wendt

Peter Wendt

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Thanks to advances in medical care, more children with cerebral palsy are surviving to become adults with adults with cerebral palsy. The non-profit group United Cerebral Palsy estimates that in the United States, 80 percent of all cerebral palsy patients are adults. But adults with cerebral palsy face additional health problems, including premature aging, arthritis and depression.


Premature Aging

At any age,Health Challenges of Patients with Adult Cerebral Palsy Articles cerebral palsy is an exhausting disease for the human body to go through. As children, cerebral palsy patients cannot grow normal bodies, veins, arteries or internal organs. These crucial body parts often become stunted and need to work harder than normal-sized organs. By the time a cerebral palsy patient reaches 40, they will be suffering from many of the problems seen in senior citizens.

This constant strain on the body also affects the immune system and it becomes compromised. Like with senior citizens, any cerebral palsy patient takes a much longer time to recover from even mild illnesses such as the flu. Family, friends and caretakers of cerebral palsy adult patients need to regular inoculations in order to avoid infecting the patient.


There is still a lot about arthritis that medical science does not understand, but leading theories speculates that a compromised immune system may play a major role in its development. Another theory is that since the skeletons of cerebral palsy patients do not develop normally, the joints are subject to more wear and tear. 

Whatever the reason, adult cerebral palsy patients often develop chronic, painful arthritis by the time they are 40 years old. There are over 100 types of arthritis, but the main types cerebral palsy patients develop are degenerative arthritis and osteoarthritis. Treatment includes medications and as much gentle exercise as the patient’s body will allow. Swimming, even supported by helpers, shows promise since the water bears the patient’s weight while giving the body a good workout.


A combination of chronic pain and limited mobility almost inevitably leads to depression, in children as well as adults. Although treating problems like arthritis and premature aging can help to reduce depression symptoms, they do not help resolve depression on their own. Patients have emotional as well as physical needs. Being able to express their feelings should be encouraged. Depression can cause a patient to stop trying to get better, so a combination of talk therapy or medication may be needed to help stabilize the patient and give him a her a reason to keep on living.