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Jeff Brody
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Aging and Cerebral Palsy

Aging and cerebral palsy can be a difficult combination. As patients with cerebral palsy grow older, they begin to face new challenges that were formerly not present. Even though cerebral palsy is classified as a non-progressive condition, secondary conditions usually found with aging and cerebral palsy, such as muscle tightness and other internal distress, can get worse with time. Most treatment and research is done on children with cerebral palsy. Little research has been done so far on aging and cerebral palsy. Although people with cerebral palsy are considered to have a normal lifespan, difficulties are slightly different when combining aging and cerebral palsy.

We find that with age, physical restrictions as well as emotional changes occur in both disabled and non-disabled people. Some patients become upset or angry at the fact that sooner than they want they will lose more control of their body with aging and cerebral palsy. Exercise, socializing and nutrition are necessary to maintain health and wellbeing, and are also a crucial part of preventative healthcare with aging and cerebral palsy. With the varying degrees of cerebral palsy and the individuality of each case, these factors play a huge role with aging and cerebral palsy.

Exercise is one of the best ways to stay healthy and an integral part of stress management in aging and cerebral palsy. However, the severity of cerebral palsy in a patient can limit the activities they participate in. As patients get older, they can experience an increase in fatigue, falling accidents, involuntary movements, depression, and joint pain. All of these generally affect the ability to perform daily activities and jobs. Exercise must be tailored to each individual so they do not over exert themselves, and complicate their current condition. Studies have also shown that adults that had a large amount of childhood physical therapy (4 to 5 times a week) over a long period of time (4 plus years) have negative lasting effects with aging and cerebral palsy.

Socializing plays a big part in everyone's life, whether its at school, work, or at home with their family. The ability to participate in the community, or the absence of this, is a key role in the overall health of a person with a disability. Without mobility, however, socializing can be extremely difficult. Patients can be confined to wheelchairs, or lack the resources of a simple ride to a function or event. Some also lack a dedicated family, or friend, that visits on at least a semi-regular basis.

Nutrition, which is important in everyone’s life, is especially important in a person dealing with aging and cerebral palsy. A proper diet including foods high in fiber and low in fat is preferred. This will help prevent constipation and weight gain, while increasing energy levels. Whole grain breads, oatmeal, brown rice as well as vegetables like carrots, green beans, potatoes with skin, and tomatoes are all high in fiber. All fruits are generally high in fiber in addition to beans, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.

Like mentioned before each individual is just that, an individual. A specifically tailored regimen is necessary for each patient in order to meet his or her specific needs. The stresses of aging and cerebral palsy will be lessened if a person is able to maintain a positive personal attitude through a supported environment.

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