What Are the Needs of Someone With Cerebral Palsy?

As a parent, it can be devastating to receive the news that your child has been diagnosed with
cerebral palsy. Because cerebral palsy is caused by a disruption in brain development, most
people who are diagnosed with the disorder require special equipment, education, and more.
Understanding what your child will need over time can help you not only guide them through life,
but also prepare them for adulthood.


Helping With Mobility
Cerebral palsy impacts motor skills, balance, and posture, which means a child with the
condition will more than likely need mobility assistance. Because cerebral palsy is different in
each person and varies in severity, the type of mobility assistance your child will need may
depend on several factors.
Your child should be evaluated by an orthopedic specialist who will more than likely order a
physical therapy evaluation. Medication may address some of your child’s mobility issues. In
severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
As your child grows, mobility issues will become more obvious, and they may need special
equipment to help them remain mobile. This may be as simple as a cane or crutches, but some
children may need a wheelchair for mobility.


Communication With Others
In some people with cerebral palsy, communication may be difficult. If the disorder affects their
tongue, the muscles of the mouth, or the palate, your child may not be able to speak clearly.
Your child should visit a speech therapist who specializes in children with cerebral palsy in order
to develop therapies that should improve your child’s communication skills.
If a child cannot talk at all, there are technologies available, including communication boards
and tablets, that allow them to communicate with others.


Nutrition
Because cerebral palsy affects motor skills, some people with cerebral palsy have difficulty
preparing meals, and others may have difficulty eating or drinking. This may mean you or
another caregiver must assist them.Even if the child is able to prepare and eat meals on their own, they may have special dietary
restrictions as conditions such as acid reflux and constipation are common in children with
cerebral palsy.
Although it is recommended for all children, it is very important that children with cerebral palsy
eat a diet high in fruit, vegetables, and fiber. Since it may be difficult to cook separate meals for
your child with the condition, it is a great way to start your entire family on a healthy eating path
by cooking the same meals for everyone.


Getting Enough Sleep
It is not unusual for a child with cerebral palsy to have difficulty sleeping. They may be dealing
with pain and movement issues that make sleeping difficult. If your child has difficulty sleeping,
talk to your healthcare team about methods that may help them sleep.
Be sure your child with cerebral palsy gets enough exercise throughout the day, and create a
calming bedtime routine. Work with a physical therapist to find a sleep position that keeps your
child comfortable in bed. You may need to install special mattresses or other equipment that will
help your child remain in a comfortable position throughout the night.


Regular Hygiene
We all take most of our daily hygiene tasks for granted, including using the bathroom, brushing
our teeth
, bathing, getting dressed, and washing our hands. Young children always need
assistance with this as they are learning, but a child with cerebral palsy may need assistance
with these things long-term. Children with cerebral palsy may be able to dress themselves by
lying on their side or sitting against a wall.
If your child can sit up alone, provide them with handrails in the bath and by the toilet. Install
non-slip pads in the tub for safety. If your child is able, encourage them to do as much of their
own hygiene as possible. Make the activities fun by turning them into games until they
understand the importance of the tasks each day.


Learning and Playtime
Cerebral palsy affects motor skills, but it can also cause cognitive disabilities. If your child has a
learning disability as well as cerebral palsy, they may need special education services that give
them a boost in learning. Start the learning process as early as possible using preschools
designed for special needs children and encouraging learning at home.
Be sure to incorporate playtime into your child’s schedule as well. Even though your child may
have limitations, they will still crave activities that are fun. Your child may be able to toss a ball back and forth, for example. Work with your child’s physical therapist to create a play schedule
that works for your child.
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, they will need many special services over
the years. If their condition was caused by negligence or carelessness, it is possible you are
eligible for compensation that may cover the costs of those services.


Medical Care
People with cerebral palsy will require a lifetime of medical care. They may take medications to
control their symptoms, work with physical therapists to improve their mobility, and they may
even get surgeries.
In addition to the costly treatments, individuals with CP may also be affected by co-occurring
conditions. Cerebral palsy also increases the risk for cancer, which should propel affected
families to seek compensation and be able to provide the most attentive care. Many cases of
CP were caused by doctor’s mistakes. When this happens, you can hold them accountable if
the court orders them to cover the costs of your child’s treatments.

Guest Post By Katherine

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