Cerebral palsy (CP) is a lifelong disorder that affects a person’s mobility, balance, and posture. Most children receive this diagnosis before their second birthday. Living with CP has its ups and downs. Luckily, there are many ways to improve a person’s quality of life. Try these helpful tips:
1. Helpful Hygiene Hacks
Many people with CP have difficulty handling daily personal hygiene tasks, including dressing, washing, and going to the bathroom. Teaching a person how to dress not only helps caregivers, but it also makes the individual feel proud of themselves. Invest in clothing that’s simple to fasten. For example, seamless afo socks slide on easily and don’t rub against the toes. Velcro is preferred over laces and buttons. An accessible bathroom is also a must. Applying non-slip strips and grip bars around the shower make it safer for a person with CP to bathe independently.
2. Mobility Must-Haves
Cerebral palsy almost always limits a person’s mobility. However, the right therapies and medical devices may help reduce these limitations. Physical therapy services can increase joint movement and strength. A doctor may even prescribe medications or recommend surgery to improve movement and coordination. As mobility issues advance, it may be necessary to transition to a support device. Walkers, crutches, and wheelchairs make it possible for CP sufferers to enjoy daily activities with others.
3. Communication Capabilities
Expressive and receptive language disorders are common in cerebral palsy. Not being able to communicate with the outside world is frustrating. That’s why speech therapy is crucial. A speech pathologist will develop a plan to help correct any language delays. In the event a person cannot talk at all, they may benefit from learning augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). AAC devices let people communicate electronically on a tablet or laptop using pictures, letters, and words.
4. Special Schooling
A person with CP deserves an education just as much as an able-bodied individual. Daily learning activities can help a child overcome cognitive delays and catch up with their peers. Special education through the local school district is another great way to encourage learning. Enrolling kids with CP in school also helps them build better social skills. Even toddlers can benefit. Clinical trials show early childhood intervention programs may help improve movement and cognition. Parents should consider various learning opportunities at a young age.
5. Adjusting to Adulthood
Although CP is a chronic disorder, most people live well into adulthood. However, transitioning from a teen to an adult is challenging. Parents can simplify the process by helping their child learn how to think and act independently. Depending on the severity of the case, many adults with CP can hold down a job. Social workers can help individuals look for meaningful work at job fairs. Some may even consider going to college or vocational school. The more life skills a person with CP has before they turn 18, the more opportunities they’ll enjoy as an adult.
Live a Fulfilling Life with Cerebral Palsy
A cerebral palsy diagnosis changes a person’s life in an instant. However, this difficult diagnosis doesn’t mean they can’t go on to live a valuable, happy life. There are many ways to manage limitations through mobility devices, educational opportunities, professional therapies, and lots of encouragement. Advances in medicine and a better understanding of the disorder make it easier to navigate through life with cerebral palsy.