Tips for Those Living with Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Tips for Those Living with Cerebral Palsy (CP)

With the help of therapies, assistive equipment and other resources, children and adults with cerebral palsy can lead active lives.

Embracing life with CP

Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder that can affect many aspects of a person's daily life. Nonetheless, it does not shorten a person's life expectancy. Though a diagnosis of cerebral palsy may come as a surprise to parents, it is manageable with proper treatment and continuing care.

Physical, occupational, and speech therapies may help improve symptoms of cerebral palsy. Mobility aids and assistive devices also help decrease dependence on others for basic tasks. Accepting cerebral palsy, maintaining a positive outlook and embracing the support of family are important steps in living with this condition.

 Life can be challenging for someone with cerebral palsy. Areas of daily life that often present challenges include:

  • Physical fitness and exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Social or romantic relationships
  • Living arrangements (independent or assisted)

Managing the symptoms of cerebral palsy can effectively allow those who are affected to live healthy, happy lives. The use of various therapies like speech, physical and occupational therapy as well as assistive devices allows people with CP to thrive in their environment despite having difficulties walking or using hands normally due their condition.

Physical fitness and CP

For people with cerebral palsy, staying active and maintaining a fitness routine are important aspects of adult life. Exercise can improve mobility limitations, movement—and overall health.

Some of the most commonly observed symptoms of CP are: a lack of coordination, voluntary movement and muscle tone. Physical therapy helps improve these symptoms by addressing specific causes such as poor posture or weakness in muscles.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, adults should do at least 30 minutes of exercise and muscle-building activity five days a week.

People with CP can benefit from physical fitness in a number of ways, including:

  • Improving strength, coordination and overall mobility 
  • Decreasing the risk of developing secondary conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure 
  • Improving mental and emotional well-being 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI)
  • Getting more involved within a community by joining a gym or fitness group

While many of us are aware of the advantages of maintaining physical fitness, it can be challenging to know where to begin. It's ideal to start a fitness regimen gradually, often over several weeks, months or even years. That way, you have a greater chance of preventing injuries and overexertion.

Tips for working out with Cerebral Palsy

You can include exercise into your everyday routine in a variety of ways. Less strenuous exercises are available such as yoga, Pilates and barre courses. Those with severe forms of CP could benefit most from these alternatives.

Weightlifting, swimming, hiking, and biking are other fitness activities. If someone with mild CP wants to strengthen certain muscles or body components, these activities could be more appropriate.

Here are some pointers to help you kick off your exercise regimen successfully:

1. Speak with your physician

It is essential to talk with your doctor about your strategy before starting any form of fitness program. He or she will be able to suggest a routine that is suitable for your particular requirements and present physical condition. A regimen that doesn't exceed your capacity a key to success. Your doctor will be able to ensure that you continue with workouts that are both safe and healthy.

2. Discover a workout regimen that is effective for you

Exercise interests are personal. Some might feel their best after following along with a Pilates DVD in their living room, while some people like running on a treadmill or lifting weights at the gym. The most crucial aspect of your fitness regimen is that it is customized to your unique body type, mobility restrictions, and activity goals.

3. Construct sensible objectives

Setting inflated expectations is one of the quickest routes to giving up on an exercise regimen. Try talking to your doctor or physical therapist about your fitness objectives. These experts will be able to provide a set of objectives that are both feasible and effective.

4. Begin slowly

There is no need to push yourself above your limits, especially in the beginning. Physical fitness is a journey. You'll be able to clearly see where you started and what you are capable of if you ease into your training regimen.

Many people with CP are hesitant to engage in physical activity and workouts. However, the advantages of exercising much outweigh the hazards. It will enable not only better physical health but also better mental wellness.

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Nutrition and CP

Feeding, dietary and digestive health difficulties are common among persons with cerebral palsy. This is because CP can have an impact on a number of nerves and muscle groups, including the muscles of the face.

People with cerebral palsy frequently report having the following secondary conditions:

  • Oral-motor dysfunction: 86% of CP sufferers have trouble coordinating their lip, tongue, and jaw muscles
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease: 77% of people with CP also suffer from   gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Chronic constipation: 74% of CP sufferers have persistent constipation
  • Issues with swallowing: 60% of CP patients also have swallowing difficulties (dysphagia)
  • Pain in the abdomen: 32% of people with CP  experience discomfort between the chest and pelvic areas

Any of the aforementioned situations can lead to underweight or malnourished children. It is imperative that parents and other adults make sure their children are getting the vitamins, minerals and proteins they require to thrive.

Dietary Health Improvement

To improve nutrition and digestive health, specialized diets and feeding methods can be adopted. By adopting a diet high in minerals, calcium and protein you can lower the chance of getting any secondary diseases, such oral-motor dysfunction.

Parents should consult a variety of doctors and professionals for assistance when addressing poor nutritional health or averting further issues. These include:

  • Dieticians
  • Feeding therapists
  • Pediatric dentists
  • Neurologists
  • Radiologists

These medical specialists will be able to evaluate your child's nutritional intake and provide a new feeding plan based on areas that require improvement.

Social and personal connections

It can be difficult for people with cerebral palsy to establish and sustain relationships. There are several causes why persons with CP could find it difficult to build connections. This encompasses issues such as low self-esteem, delayed growth, and social anxiety.

Researchers sought to learn more about the social, personal and sexual interactions that teenagers with CP had in a 2008 Foundation of Rehabilitation Information study. 103 participants between the ages of 16 and 20 participated in the research. Researchers employed standardized questionnaires and interviews to evaluate these associations.

According to the research, young people with CP were generally able to build social relationships, but they frequently had difficulty doing so when it came to forming intimate relationships. 98% of the young people engaged in at least one socially oriented leisure activity, whereas 25% said they had or were interested in having romantic relationships.

Improving relationships for people with CP

Young people with CP may experience difficulties in developing close connections for a variety of reasons. An individual's capacity for efficient communication may be hampered by coexisting diseases like speech or intellectual problems. In both social and romantic interactions, self-confidence can be crucial.

It is difficult to generalize relationships among individuals with CP, just as it would be impossible for those without a mobility disability. The severity of one's CP, any coexisting conditions, parental support and other circumstances can all have an influence on one's capacity to develop connections.

Putting an emphasis on early socialization is one method persons with CP might enhance their interpersonal ties. From an early age, parents should aim to introduce their child to ideas like sharing, waiting their turn and etiquette.

Parents may also promote socialization through:

  • Buddy Programs
  • Play Therapy
  • Support Groups
  • Boys And Girls Clubs
  • Summer Camps
  • After-School Programs
  • Events at a local library, church, community center or other venues

Assisted or independent living

Parents might be curious about the optimum kind of living arrangement for a child who is starting the journey to adulthood. Individuals with CP have a variety of housing alternatives, from independent flats in supported communities to 24-hour aided home care.

Options for assisted and independent living facilities include:

  • Individual apartments within aided communities 
  • Care homes with round-the-clock medical care 
  • Group care homes with on-site therapy and treatment
  • Housing provided by CP support organizations
  • Living at home with the family

The choice between assisted living and independent housing mostly depends on how severe the cerebral palsy is and how well the person can carry out daily duties on their own. It's crucial to look into what is available through neighborhood support groups, governmental agencies, care facilities and more while looking into housing choices.

Adjusting to life with CP

If your child  has just received a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, you might be feeling anxious about what the future holds for him. This is an entirely reasonable reaction, but it's crucial for the wellbeing of your child that parents work toward acceptance.

The family will be able to confidently go forward by embracing life with CP and learning how to live with this diagnosis.

If you are here seeking to help people living with developmental disabilities, don’t forget to check out the 1CFS Shop. Here, you can buy you and your loved ones special T-shirts. The proceeds go towards supporting people living with development disabilities.
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