People suffering from cerebral palsy can have a variety of problems related to brain damage and poor muscle control, and can include speech disorders, diet and nutrition issues, and seizures. The disabilities related to cerebral palsy can affect infants, children, and adults who suffer from the condition. Learn more about the disabilities related to cerebral palsy by reading the sections below.
Eating and Diet Problems
Speech Disorders. Just as patients have problems with muscle control in their arms and legs, they also have difficulties controlling their tongue, mouth, lips, jaw, and breathing flow. As a result, individuals with cerebral palsy might have speech disorders. The most common speech disorder is called dysarthria. This condition causes speech to be slow and slurred and, in some cases, hypernasal (too much air flow through the nose) or hyponasal (not enough air flow through the nose).
Drooling. Cerebral palsy sufferers are also prone to drooling. There are several cerebral palsy treatments available to combat this problem:
- Anticholinergics (drugs that reduce the flow of saliva)
- Biofeedback – lets the patient know when they are drooling
Eating and Diet Problems. Because many of the same muscles used for talking are also used for eating, people with cerebral palsy also have difficulty when they eat. This can cause cerebral palsy sufferers to have a poor diet, leading to malnutrition, as well as poor growth and development.
Incontinence. Another common problem is incontinence – poor bladder control. Incontinence takes several forms:
- Enuresis (bed wetting)
- Stress incontinence (urination during physical activity)
- Slow leak from the bladder
Learning Disabilities. People with cerebral palsy may also suffer from learning disabilities. These learning disabilities related to cerebral palsy can range from mild to severe. Patients with a mild learning disability may only have difficulties with a couple of subjects in school. Patients with severe mental retardation, however, learn at a much slower rate and need special assistance.
Seizures. Approximately half of all people with cerebral palsy suffer from seizures. Seizures occur when there is abnormal brain activity (the brain attempts to send abnormal messages very close together). Seizures affect people in different ways – some people may stop moving and stare, others may fall down. Some seizures cause a person to fall and shake violently. The seizures are generally not dangerous and will only last a few minutes.
This information is intended to provide a brief overview of the problems related to cerebral palsy. Consult a physician to learn more about your specific case.
Living with Cerebral Palsy – Infants, Children, and Adults
When thinking of the future for a child with cerebral palsy, it is important that parents keep a positive attitude, just as one would with any child. It is equally important to understand the child’s abilities. A parent’s hopes are likely a mix of realistic and unrealistic dreams for the child; professional help can enable the parent to adopt realistic goals. Often, a communication breakdown can occur when parents and health care experts discuss living with cerebral palsy, and the ways it affects infants, children, and adults. Improved communication between parents, physicians, and educators can enable a child to function at his or her utmost capability. Defining potential and ability is most critical during the teenage years and beyond, when the patient’s abilities are clearer to everyone involved. Learn more about how to handle children with cerebral palsy.
Seek a Medical and Legal Professional for Help
The disabilities related to cerebral palsy affect infants, children, and adults, so it is important to talk to a cerebral palsy specialist to learn how to best deal with speech disorders, diet and nutrition problems, and the other problems associated with the condition.