What Is The Prognosis For Cerebral Palsy Sufferers?
At this time, cerebral palsy cannot be cured, but due to medical research, many patients can enjoy near-normal lives if their neurological problems are properly managed. As a child gets older and begins formal schooling, the intensity of services will vary from individual to individual. Persons with cerebral palsy are usually able to attain a substantial degree of independence but, in some cases, may need considerable assistance.
Services for the school age child may include continuing therapy, regular or special education, counseling, technical support, community integration opportunities, recreation and possible personal attendants. A key factor seems to be a supportive family. People extensively affected by cerebral palsy can still be highly functional and independent. The HEATH Resource Center, the clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities, states that a significant number of students with cerebral palsy are enrolled in colleges and universities.
Important advances have taken place in the last 15 years, which have had a great effect on the long-term well being of children born with cerebral palsy. Advanced technology, including computers and engineering devices, has been applied to the needs of persons with cerebral palsy. Technological innovations have been developed in the areas of speech and communication, self-care, and adapting living arrangements and work sites. The future may bring even more significant applications.
Another important development has been the increased ability of persons with disabilities, including those who have cerebral palsy and other severe disabilities, to live independently in the community. Adults with cerebral palsy are now living, with or without assistance, in their own apartments or townhouses. Independent Living Centers have also proven to be important resources for persons with disabilities.
WHAT RESEARCH IS BEING DONE?
Research suggests that cerebral palsy results from incorrect cell development early in pregnancy. For example, a group of researchers has recently observed that more than one-third of children with cerebral palsy also have missing enamel on certain teeth.
Scientists are also examining other events -such as bleeding in the brain, seizures, and breathing and circulation problems – that threaten the brain of a newborn baby. Some investigators are conducting studies to learn whether certain drugs can help prevent neonatal stroke, and other investigators are examining the causes of low birth-weight.
Other scientists are exploring how brain insults (like brain damage from a shortage of oxygen or blood flow, bleeding in the brain, and seizures) can cause the abnormal release of brain chemicals and trigger brain disease.
DID YOU KNOW?
- UCPA estimates that between 1 and 3 of every 1,000 births will have
- In 1997 in the U.S.A. there were 3,880,894 births according to the CDC.
- One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had cerebral palsy.
His name was Stephen Hopkins
- Cerebral Palsy may sometimes be called Little’s disease. This is because of the work of a British physician named William John Little (1810-1894). “Little’s disease” specifically refers to congenital spastic cerebral palsy, in particular spastic diplegia and spastic hemiplegia.
SOME TIPS FOR PARENTS
- Learn about CP. The more you know, the more you can help yourself and your child. See the list of resources and organizations on this site.
- Love and play with your child. Treat your son or daughter as you would a child without disabilities. Take your child places, read together, have fun.
- Learn from professionals and other parents how to meet your child’s special needs, but try not to turn your lives into one round of therapy after another.
- Ask for help from family and friends. Caring for a child with CP is hard work. Teach others what to do and give them plenty of opportunities to practice while you take a break.
- Keep informed about new treatments and technologies that may help. New approaches are constantly being worked on and can make a huge difference to the quality of your child’s life. However, be careful about unproven new “fads.”
- Learn about assistive technology that can help your child. This may include a simple communication board to help your child express needs and desires, or may be as sophisticated as a computer with special software.
- Be patient, and keep up your hope for improvement. Your child, like every child, has a whole lifetime to learn and grow.
- Work with professionals in early intervention or in your school to develop an IFSP or an IEP that reflects your child’s needs and abilities. Be sure to include related services such as speech-language pathology, physical therapy, and occupational therapy if your child needs these.
SOME TIPS FOR TEACHERS
- Learn more about CP. The resources and organizations on this site will help you.
- This may seem obvious, but sometimes the “look” of CP can given the mistaken impression that a child who has CP cannot learn as much as others. Focus on the individual child and learn firsthand what needs and capabilities he or she has.
- Tap into the strategies that teachers of students with learning disabilities use for their students. Become knowledgeable about different learning styles. Then you can use the approach best suited for a particular child, based upon that child’s learning abilities as well as physical abilities.
- Be inventive. Ask yourself (and others), “How can I adapt this lesson for this child to maximize active, hands-on learning?”
- Learn to love assistive technology. Find experts within and outside your school to help you. Assistive technology can mean the difference between independence for your student or not.
- Always remember, parents are experts, too. Talk candidly with your student’s parents. They can tell you a great deal about their daughter or son’s special needs and abilities.
- Effective teamwork for the child with CP needs to bring together professionals with diverse backgrounds and expertise. The team must combine the knowledge of its members to plan, implement, and coordinate the child’s services.