Can cerebral palsy worsen over time?
Cerebral palsy itself does not get worse with age.
Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive disorder, meaning that it does not get worse over time.
If your child is very young, it may seem like their CP is getting worse, but this is probably not the case.
Cerebral palsy can take time to fully manifest. As your baby grows, they will begin to try and explore their environment by crawling around. Eventually, they will try to walk and run and learn to speak.
All of these important stages in development are times when their CP can become more apparent. But even though it may be more apparent as your child grows, this does not necessarily mean it is actually worsening.
What can worsen over time are the indirect symptoms of cerebral palsy.
Complications of Aging with Cerebral Palsy
Various complications can arise from cerebral palsy. In the absence of proper management, they can affect the individual both physically and psychologically.
Below, we’ll go over some of the most common complications associated with aging in individuals with cerebral palsy.
Spasticity refers to involuntary muscle contractions caused by the disrupted transmission of signals from the brain. This can cause stiffness, tremors, and pain.
While the brain damage that caused cerebral palsy does worsen over time, spasticity can. Having continuously contracted muscles for a long period causes an imbalance in the muscles, bones, and joints.
Children grow rapidly, and uneven forces on their muscles can lead to body distortions, contractures, or dislocations. This is why conditions like scoliosis and hip dislocations are highly prevalent among individuals with cerebral palsy.
Although cerebral palsy primarily affects an individual’s movements, it can also lead to communication problems that make it difficult for them to interact with others. For example, speech, language, and hearing impairments are commonly associated with cerebral palsy and contribute to difficulties with communication.
As children grow older, impaired communication skills can affect healthy relationships at school, work, and other social environments. Additionally, they can lead to frustration or isolation that negatively impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing.
The most effective way to identify communication problems is through regular speech, language, and hearing examinations and/or treatment. A speech-language pathologist can teach individuals how to effectively communicate and develop their social skills. These skills can carry over with them as they age, allowing them to pursue more meaningful interactions with others in various environments.
Premature Aging & Fatigue
Individuals with cerebral palsy are also susceptible to premature aging due to compromised motor control, musculoskeletal strain, and increased levels of stress.
Living with impaired movement throughout one’s lifetime can add extra stress to both the mind and body. In fact, individuals with cerebral palsy require up to 3-5 times more energy to move around than those without a disability.
Body distortions can also add strain on certain organs or connective tissues. As a result, premature aging may be evident in the form of chronic pain and musculoskeletal problems.
Cerebral palsy can place excess pressure on your musculoskeletal system. Therefore, individuals with cerebral palsy tend to experience more rapid wear and tear of the body as they age.
Musculoskeletal problems associated with cerebral palsy other than spasticity, scoliosis, and hip dislocation (which we mentioned earlier) include osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
Osteoarthritis refers to the wearing down of cartilage (the connective tissue that cushions bones at a joint).
Osteoporosis describes when the bones become weak, lose density, and become prone to fractures. It’s frequently caused by aging, poor nutrition, low mobility, and lack of weight-bearing.
Our bones are the structural framework of our bodies that enable movement and provide structural support. Weak bones can increase the risk and complications of falls and accidents as individuals with cerebral palsy age.
Aging with cerebral palsy not only affects the body but also the mind. Adults with cerebral palsy are more likely to experience depression or anxiety than those without a disability. This is closely linked to feelings of isolation.
How a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer can Help You
Proper treatment for your child’s cerebral palsy can help them avoid these complications as they get older. Unfortunately, these treatments are often expensive and time-consuming.
Parents often need to make difficult decisions about the health of their child, and sometimes, they have to forgo the best possible treatment because they cannot afford it.
We hate to see this, especially when many cases of CP are due to medical malpractice.
If your child’s CP was the result of an injury caused by a medical professional, you may be entitled to financial compensation – compensation that pays for treatment, including surgery, physical therapy, medication, and more.
A cerebral palsy lawyer is a birth injury lawyer that specializes in helping parents get financial compensation to pay for these treatments, as well as other expenses that result because of your child’s condition.
The experienced birth injury attorneys at Merson Law can help you do just this. Contact our offices today through our confidential form, or by calling our NYC office and get started with your claim today.