While cerebral palsy still has plenty of mysteries surrounding it, it is something that doctors and scientists are actively researching to learn more about. Since these experts are diligently reporting their findings and the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation (UCPF) raises so much money to help with research, more and more data is being released.
Unable to Walk
Due to neurological complications sending wrong messages to muscle groups, one in every three patients with cerebral palsy are unable to walk.
Three out of every four patients with cerebral palsy are in pain. This could be due to spasticity and may also be due to inconsistent muscle tone that causes a chain reaction of pain through other muscles.
Overcompensation, the inability to achieve a consistent gait, and spinal problems are usually the cause of this pain, and often what keeps children and adults with cerebral palsy from getting a full night’s rest.
One out of every four people with cerebral palsy have the inability to talk. Children and adults who have cerebral palsy often have gag reflex problems, problems with controlling the esophageal muscles, and spinal problems that affect the position of esophageal muscles. Speech therapy can often help them to exercise these areas and to hopefully gain control, though some never do.
One out of every four people with cerebral palsy have epilepsy. Since cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder, sometimes the brain gets signals mixed up or confused. These mixed or confused signals are the most common reason that people with cerebral palsy have muscular problems, but they often have seizures due to the same neurological disorder.
Seizures occur when the brain sends signals to too many parts of the brain that release electricity. Suddenly, the brain is flooded with too much electricity and, in essence, electrocutes itself with its own energy.
Sight is also closely related to how the brain operates, and therefore, 1 out of every 10 patients will have vision problems. Some vision problems are so detrimental that the person can’t see at all, and in some cases it affects their sleeping patterns.
Brain damage and/or muscles imbalance can cause vision disturbances such as:
- Cortical visual impairment
- Blurred vision
- Optic nerve issues
- Depth perception issues
According to Harbor Medical Center’s EthnoMed, around a quarter of all people with cerebral palsy experience cognitive problems, though the degree of the problems vary. Common cognitive issues include:
- Impaired academic performance
- Poor thinking skills
- Difficulties in retaining information
Since cerebral palsy involves the inability to control certain muscles, one out of every five people with cerebral palsy suffer from saliva loss. This is most often caused due to excessive drooling.
Due to nerve damage, 1 out of every 10 people with cerebral palsy suffer from hearing loss, and 1 in every 50 are completely deaf.
One out of every five people with cerebral palsy have some variation of a sleeping disorder. Sometimes this is because spasticity keeps them awake, other times it’s because of the pain that they’re in, and yet other times may stem from visual problems: they may not understand it’s still dark outside when they wake up.
In addition, abnormal muscle tone may affect the chest muscles, which in turn makes it hard for some people with cerebral to breathe deeply.
Behavioral and Emotional Problems
Children with cerebral palsy have a number of special needs that in some cases, require them to be housebound or under constant supervision. One out of every four children with cerebral palsy have behavioral problems or problems socializing with others. The most common behavioral issues include:
- Emotional outbursts
- Poor social skills
- Poor decision-making skills
- The tendency to “black out” when angered