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Cerebral palsy is a condition in which impairment or damage to the immature brain causes physical impairments to muscles and motor control. This leads to an inability to control muscles, movements and posture. The condition can range from extremely mild to profound. If you are severely affected, you may also experience difficulties with sensory functions or learning ability. No two people with cerebral palsy will be affected in the same way.
Many people, including some professionals, think that because cerebral palsy is a “non-progressive disorder”, physical function will remain much the same throughout life. This isn’t necessarily the case.
Some people lose no more function than might be expected from the normal ageing process, others do. This is often as a result of life-long abnormal movements, altered posture, seizures, medication and diminished quality of life and limited work opportunities. Due to the changing effects of cerebral palsy, new physical problems can emerge as people get older.
It is only in recent years that more research has been undertaken into life expectancy and cerebral palsy.
If you have very profound CP with severe postural difficulties, internal organs can become compressed due to posture and contractions. You may also have complex care needs. In these cases, life expectancy may be shorter.
However, more recent research indicates that many people with CP will have a similar life expectancy to non-disabled people.
Sometimes the effects of ageing can be heightened due to inadequate rehabilitation following surgery or even the constant use of equipment. For example, poor wheelchair seating and support can affect posture causing pain, discomfort and sometimes loss of function in limbs.
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