Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the most common childhood motor disability, affecting about 1 in 345 children. That means there are about one million people living meaningful lives with CP in the United States today. While a new diagnosis can be scary, you and your child are certainly not alone!
Most people receive their Cerebral Palsy diagnosis before the age of two when they begin missing gross motor milestones. Mild CP may take longer to notice and diagnose. It’s rare for a person to receive a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy after early childhood.
Most experts agree that the key to a successful, independent life with CP is early intervention. The sooner you embrace and support your child, the happier and stronger they will be!
We’ve created this guide to help parents and caregivers understand the diagnosis and management of Cerebral Palsy. Continue reading to get off to a great start and ensure your child will thrive!
What to Expect from a Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy
The symptoms of Cerebral Palsy look different in every person. Almost every person with CP experiences some difficulty with balance, posture, and movement. The most common form of CP causes stiff muscle tone. This can make it hard to move and control the limbs.
Some forms of CP only impact the legs and hips. Others can also affect the arms and face. Occasionally, some people with cerebral palsy have additional challenges with speech.
At the mildest end of the spectrum, people may have a somewhat awkward and uncoordinated gait. At the more severe end of the spectrum, people with CP may need more help to strengthen their coordination.
Regardless of symptoms, nearly all adults and children with cerebral palsy can benefit from physical and occupational therapy. A great therapy team can work on everything from improving balance to tasks of daily living. They may also be able to fit you for mobility aids, such as braces or crutches. These are key components of boosting independence.
Luckily, cerebral palsy is not a progressive condition and should not get worse over time. With that said, the earlier you begin treatment, the higher your quality of life will be.
Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis in Adults
The cause of cerebral palsy is almost always genetic. In some cases, the cause of CP may be a birth injury. Some young babies develop CP as a result of illnesses in infancy, such as meningitis.
With that said, adults cannot develop cerebral palsy later in life. As a result, you are unlikely to receive a cerebral palsy diagnosis as an adult.
Even so, some people with mild CP can go for many years without a diagnosis. As a result, they may only learn the cause of their stiff muscles or unsteady gait later in life. This is rare but not impossible.
Children with CP grow into independent, capable adults with CP. The sooner you pursue treatment, the more positive the outcome will be.
Tips for Management of Cerebral Palsy
We’ve compiled a few cerebral palsy management methods to help you or your child navigate life with CP. We hope they’ll provide peace of mind while offering proactive ways to improve quality of life.
- Commit to occupational and/or physical therapy
- Pursue active hobbies, such as horseback riding, swimming, and swinging, with support from a qualified professional
- Eat a high-calcium diet to support bone health and overall nutrition
- Ask your care team about using orthotics to promote proper skeletal alignment, as well as assistive devices like NexStride
- Look into support groups for families living with cerebral palsy to build up your community and support system
- Ask your doctor about medications and treatments like Botox, which can help with day-to-day pain management
- Be sure to monitor for scoliosis, which is more common in individuals with CP
Boost Independence With NexStride, Your Walking Coach
It’s common for children and adults with cerebral palsy to use mobility aids to help them stay moving. Regardless of age, many people with CP can benefit from a walking coach like NexStride. This research-backed device attaches to a cane, walker, or crutches. It uses light and sound to help your brain find a rhythm and maintain a safe gait while walking.
NexStride can provide the boost of confidence you need to navigate independently with a Cerebral Palsy diagnosis. Contact a representative by calling 805-574-7275 or using the live chat feature below. In the meantime, learn more about NexStride here.