A diagnosis of cerebral palsy can be very difficult for families to process and understand, but with the earliest possible diagnosis and the right support, a good quality of life can often still be enjoyed. The effects of cerebral palsy on health vary greatly depending on the severity of the condition and the part of the brain injured.
Although it is a permanent condition, it is non-progressive, which means it will not get worse as a child grows older.
Many scientific studies have proven that processes can be adopted to help improve the quality of life not only for people with cerebral palsy, but also importantly their families and caregivers.
People with cerebral palsy often experience a better quality of life when their impairment is integrated into their sense of self-worth early in childhood, and when their life is as similar as possible to those of most others.
It is for this reason that diagnosis at the earliest possible stage is crucial, as that can help parents and carers seek the support – both physically and financially – they need to ensure the best future.
Does cerebral palsy affect life expectancy and how can quality of life be enhanced?
Naturally, those who are told their child has cerebral palsy can begin to wonder about what quality of life they will experience as they grow older.
Most children who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy live a normal life expectancy and the condition is not a life-threatening disability. It does not cause other disabilities independently either.
It is a condition which has an impact on a moment-by-moment basis.
For a child with cerebral palsy, the love and support of family, friends or carers, participation in engaging and life-enhancing interests, and feeling safe and secure, can bring huge benefits.
Simple steps which can help enhance the quality of life for people with cerebral palsy include:
Pain control – Children and adults who suffer pain because of their cerebral palsy always cite it as a major reason for why they experience a lower quality of life. This is because it can affect every aspect of their daily routine, including their physical well-being, emotions and moods, self-perception, independence and relationships.
Pain can affect every area of the body, but hip and back pain are common complaints, especially for those who suffer from spasticity and osteoarthritis. Sleep disturbance is another common problem caused by pain. Assisted stretching, anti-inflammatories and injections can be used to deliver relief.
Medication – For those who suffer from more severe forms of this impairment, there are certain medications which can be prescribed to aid pain management. Anticholinergics, a form of muscle relaxer, can help those with chorea by reducing the involuntary, irregular, and uncontrollable movements they experience. It’s also suitable for anyone with dystonia, which causes prolonged and involuntary muscle contractions as it can reduce spasticity.
Therapy – Providing regular access to therapeutic care is essential to help cerebral palsy patients achieve a joyful and fulfilling life. Working alongside a special physiotherapist may help to maintain the range of joint motion and reduce muscle stiffness.
Reduce stress – Studies suggest that reducing the amount of stress which people with cerebral palsy feel can lead to a better sense of well-being and, subsequently, a better quality of life. The same can be said for the stress which is experienced by parents, family members and care providers as higher stress levels are more likely to result in a poorer quality of life for the person with cerebral palsy.
Improved communication – Optimising the way in which children with cerebral palsy communicate obviously helps to enhance the relationships they have and maximise their independence. Even those who are non-verbal can be encouraged to communicate using assistive and augmentative communication devices, which allow programmed words and phrases to be selected through head movements or eye-tracking technology.
Specialist help and support for cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy is often not diagnosed immediately at birth because the symptoms and signs are quite subtle in a new-born baby.
It is often only when a child fails to reach developmental milestones that parents begin to question why their loved one is experiencing problems.
At Hudgell Solicitors, we help families affected by a cerebral palsy diagnosis by working on their behalf to secure the support they need.
Our cerebral palsy lawyers will thoroughly investigate as to whether medical negligence was a contributory factor in causing the condition, and if so, seek interim compensation payments and care packages to ensure immediate steps can be taken to provide vital support and assistance.
Whilst no amount of money will ever make up for the difficulties which might be experienced, compensation can provide life-long help and support by paying for specialist therapy, equipment, accommodation and care.