Cerebral palsy is a condition or set of symptoms that varies significantly by individual. Some children with CP are largely paralyzed or can’t feed or care for themselves, while others are only mildly physically impaired, and everything in between. Even with minor disabilities, growing up with this condition can be challenging. A new report from researchers in Sweden is finding that young adults have a similar quality of life to their peers but still face unique challenges.
Young Adults with CP Match Peers for Quality of Life
Many previous studies of people with cerebral palsy included wide age ranges or looked at children. The researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute wanted to focus on adolescents. Other studies have found that children and young adults have worsening quality of life as they get older but that adults with CP have a quality of life comparable to other adults.
This study that only looked at young adults with cerebral palsy found new results. The study showed that people with CP between the ages of 20 and 22 experience a comparable quality of life to other people of the same age.
To determine this the researchers worked with 61 participants. They conducted physical examinations and interviews and gave the young adults questionnaires to complete. While this was good news for people affected by cerebral palsy, the researchers also found one area in which the population fared worse than their peers.
Physical Abilities, Pain, Fatigue, Worse for Young Adults with Cerebral Palsy
As might be expected, the physical component score of the researchers’ assessments of the participants was consistently lower compared to peers without cerebral palsy. As compared to their peers, these young adults experience more pain and are more fatigued more frequently. Those with the greatest physical disabilities had the worst sleep and resulting fatigue.
The study also found that the young people with CP were less active than their counterparts, which can be a contributor to pain, fatigue and lower quality of life in this sector. Those participants who were more active experienced less fatigue overall.
Mental Health in Young Adults with CP
Another interesting finding from the study was that those participants with the more severe disabilities had better mental health scores than the individuals with mild or moderate physical disabilities. While the results seem unexpected, the researchers had an explanation. They believe that people with milder disabilities are more likely to compare themselves to healthy adults, resulting in a lower perception of health and wellness.
The researchers conducted this study to determine quality of life issues for this often-overlooked age group of people living with cerebral palsy. The results should help caregivers and medical professionals better understand this population and provide suggestions, such as exercise, to relieve some of their symptoms.