Can Cerebral Palsy Develop In Adulthood?

men huggingCerebral palsy is a type of brain damage that occurs before a child reaches the age of five. As such, adults cannot develop this condition. When children with cerebral palsy mature into adults, however, they face new challenges. Although cerebral palsy is a non-aggressive disorder that does not worsen over time, it can still impact an individual’s overall health and wellness in ways it previously did not.

Challenges Faced by Adults with Cerebral Palsy

As individuals with cerebral palsy get older, the condition itself will not worsen, but that does not mean they will not encounter any changes.

These are some of the most common challenges adults with cerebral palsy will experience:

  • Premature aging
  • Walking or swallowing disorders
  • Difficulty in the workplace
  • Mental health conditions
  • Post-impairment syndrome

Cerebral palsy is not a life-threatening condition and, if any of these symptoms persist, there are ways to manage them through various forms of therapy, alternative treatment methods, or even surgery.

The Issue of Premature Aging

This is a common issue adults living with this disability experience, typically occurring between the ages of 20 and 40 as a result of the excess strain and stress their bodies endure to perform everyday tasks. Even walking up a small flight of stairs can take up all the energy they have.

Symptoms of premature aging include:

  • Increased pain
  • Stiff muscles
  • Risk of falls
  • Dental problems
  • Long-term side effects due to medications

Some of these symptoms overlap with conditions that generally arise with adulthood, but some might cause further complications if left untreated.

Walking and Swallowing Disorders

Regardless of age, cerebral palsy is a condition that impacts a person’s movement and flexibility. The effect of aging compounds these symptoms and effects, leading to a possible onset of musculoskeletal abnormalities that did not previously exist. This might require the use of mobility aids, such as wheelchairs or crutches.

Swallowing disorders, otherwise known as dysphagia, are also common in adults with cerebral palsy. They are caused by damage to the nervous system, head or neck.

Common symptoms include:

  • Coughing during or after consuming food or fluids
  • Food leaking from or getting stuck in the mouth
  • Recurring pneumonia
  • Weight loss or dehydration
  • Embarrassment

Working with a speech therapist or physical therapist can significantly improve the effects of these disorders.

Post-Impairment Syndrome

Identifying post-impairment syndrome can be difficult, given that many of its symptoms mimic other related conditions. These symptoms include:

  • Weakness caused by muscle abnormalities, bone deformities, and arthritis
  • Increased pain
  • Fatigue
  • Strain injuries

Those who struggle with cerebral palsy require more energy than able-bodied individuals to perform the same tasks, which can cause post-impairment syndrome. As a preventative measure, those with cerebral palsy should work with various therapists throughout their early adulthood to strengthen their muscles.

Difficulties Cerebral Palsy Creates in the Workplace

Living with a disability can often impact one’s performance in the workplace. Under the Americas with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals living with cerebral palsy, and most make reasonable accommodations for them in the workplace. This includes providing assistive technology, adjusted work schedules, or the use of a personal assistant.

The Effects On Mental Health

The stresses of living with cerebral palsy can sometimes be overwhelming, creating a tendency in some to become shy or fearful of certain social situations. The most common mental health disorders found in adults with cerebral palsy are depression and anxiety disorders.

It is important for friends and family to be proactive and observant of any signs of these conditions. Those suffering from mental health disorders should receive a full evaluation by a medical professional, so that he or she can receive any necessary therapy, medication, or continued care.

Contact a Southfield Birth Injury Attorney Today

Cerebral palsy is a birth injury and it is a serious condition, often resulting from the careless mistakes of a healthcare provider. Doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies will never admit their mistakes, which is why hiring an attorney who will uncover the truth and fight for you is crucial. Fieger Law has a proven track record of success with cerebral palsy and birth injury cases. In fact, our firm has won multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients, including a $145 million verdict upheld in 2014, which was the largest medical malpractice verdict in the nation.

Birth injury cases are incredibly complex, so choosing a law firm with the experience, skill, and passion necessary to win can make all the difference in the outcome. Let Fieger Law fight for you.

Call us today at (800) 294-6637 to get started.


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