Cerebral Palsy is a neurologic condition. The cause of Cerebral Palsy is either brain injury or brain malformation occurring during foetal development, at birth, or after birth while the brain is still developing. The actual brain damage does not progress, which differentiates Cerebral Palsy from other disabilities.
However, primary conditions can lead to secondary conditions. For example, 86 percent of those with Cerebral Palsy have an inability to control facial muscles. This can result in difficulty swallowing, breathing, or communicating; these are considered secondary conditions of Cerebral Palsy. This article discusses some of the secondary challenges that may come as a result of having Cerebral Palsy (CP) and tips on how to overcome these challenges.
Communication is something we rely on everyday and cerebral palsy can make it difficult for a child to communicate effectively. How much it affects them varies from child to child, as does the best way to handle it. Some individuals with CP are unable to communicate verbally, and may instead use signing, nonverbal cues such as facial expressions or gestures. With technology constantly changing, more and more options are opening up for people who need alternative communication means. Touch-pad devices, advanced hearing aid, and tablet-based communication devices can assist your child in communicating with you.
Because of the lack of muscle control, many basic personal hygiene tasks, such as bathing or brushing teeth, become difficult or impossible for individuals with CP. A carer will often be required to assist with bathing, which may involve seating the patient on a bath seat. There are a wide range of products to assist with this and making living with cerebral palsy easier. You can find bathing and toileting stools, shower chairs, and more here.
How much Cerebral Palsy affects mobility depends on the severity of the condition. Everyone knows the importance of mobility and keeping as active as possible, and this is particularly true for those who have CP. It’s important to address a child’s mobility issues as early as possible to ensure other areas of their development are not affected. There are a wide range of products to assist with mobility and making life with cerebral palsy easier. Freedom Concept Trikes are great for young people who have CP to help keep active and have fun at the same time.
Some children with CP are at risk for undernourishment due to feeding difficulties and oral motor dysfunction. Oral motor dysfunction is the inability to control muscles in the mouth required for proper food intake levels. Children with Cerebral Palsy can benefit from feeding and nutrition assessments.
Healthy, high calorie foods are especially important since it can be difficult for many children to physically eat enough to meet their nutrition requirements. Consider adding calorie rich smoothies to the daily diet containing high calorie fruits and vegetables.
If your child has trouble communicating it can be hard for them to talk and connect to others that don’t understand their condition. Encourage others to pay attention to the most basic signals, as well as work with your child to develop their confidence to overcome social barriers. Although socialising may be difficult, you should also encourage social interaction in public, especially with young children. An example may be to take your child to the local park regularly, help them participate in extracurricular activities after school, or help facilitate other social activities such as inviting other kids to play.
The parts of the body affected by cerebral palsy, the level of severity and combination of symptoms can differ for each person. For example, one person may have a weakness in one hand and find tasks like writing or tying shoelaces challenging. Another person may have little or no control over their movements or speech. With the proper guidance and support, your child can successfully live with CP and overcome any secondary challenges.
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