The majority of children with cerebral palsy will live long, productive lives with the right treatment and care. Of course, this means your child may require more medical treatments, therapy, and medications than a child without cerebral palsy. However, life expectancy for children with cerebral palsy will also greatly depend on how severe their conditions are.
How Cerebral Palsy Progresses
It’s important to note that cerebral palsy is a disorder that does not progress over time. However, it’s the health issues that accompany cerebral palsy that are prone to progression. For instance, the following conditions associated with cerebral palsy may progress over time, which can impact the patient’s quality of life:
- Hearing and Eyesight issues
- Cognitive Issues
- Brain injury issues
- Oral motor problems
It’s important to note that the aforementioned issues don’t necessarily mean that the child’s lifespan will be lower. However, it does mean that as a parent, being diligent in getting medical care and continuing treatment is extremely important.
How To Optimize Your Child’s Lifespan
Keep in mind that as a parent, guardian, or loved one, you play one of the most important roles in your child’s quality of life and lifespan. Although healthcare professionals will provide the necessary treatment tools, you will more than likely be the one to spend the most time with your child and know his/her personality the best and his/her everyday wants and needs.
Each cerebral palsy patient has unique, individual needs, both medically and emotionally. Working with your child’s healthcare professionals will ensure the best options when optimizing your child’s lifespan. You can begin the process by keeping the following tips in mind:
- Get your child’s medical treatment and therapy started as soon as you can. Research indicates that early intervention is the best way to improve your child’s life, lifespan, independence, and productivity.
- Be certain to work out goals with your child’s healthcare providers.
- Educate yourself thoroughly on your child’s condition and be aware of any severe, life-threatening complications by learning the early symptoms and signs.
- Help your child learn coping strategies. Working with a behavioral therapist will assist you in how to teach your child to deal with daily stresses.
Remember that a child with cerebral palsy will generally require you to give more levels of care than a child without the disorder. Yet, with the right care, there is no reason that a child with cerebral palsy cannot life a quality life.
Calculating Life Expectancy for Children With Cerebral Palsy
A cerebral palsy life expectancy calculation is a way to estimate an average survival time for children with cerebral palsy. It’s based upon scientific data, the population of others with the same condition, and historical date. The best way to get an estimate of your child’s life expectancy is via an actuary who specializes in cerebral palsy life expectancy cases.
The primary purposes of a cerebral palsy life expectancy calculation is not only give loved ones an answer to their questions regarding their child’s life expectancy, but also to estimate future medical expenses. This is extremely important if you’re seeking a cerebral palsy lawsuit for medical malpractice.
Calculating cerebral palsy life expectancy is typically done by an experienced financial expert who specializes in cerebral palsy cases. The expert will calculate in numerous factors into your child’s life expectancy chart, including the population statistics, estimated costs for care, medical expenses, and more. The calculation will also measure the risks of death, going by the average years someone with specific cerebral palsy-related disabilities is expected to live.
Keep in mind, however, that life expectancy is only an estimate. As time moves forward, there can be many advances in science and technology, among other things, that can change the average life expectancy.
Factors That Affect Life Expectancy
In general, most children with cerebral palsy can have a long lifespan. However, any severe associated disorders must be managed successfully. Although it’s impossible to predict anyone’s exact lifespan, learning about the main factors that can affect children’s lifespan who have cerebral palsy will help you understand the disorder better, as well as what needs to be done to help your child live as long as possible.
Unfortunately, some children with cerebral palsy have difficulties with self-feed. Children who are able to self-feed generally have a longer life than those who cannot.
Not only do children who are unable to self-feed have to rely on others for meals and snacks, but they may also be prone to choking and aspiration because of their inability to chew correctly, swallow correctly, and effectively communicate.
Parents and caregivers need to be extremely proactive when feeding children with cerebral palsy. If the child has severe problems with choking when being fed, a feeding tube may need to be utilized. Yet, feeding tubes can lead to serious infections if not taken care of properly. It’s important to work closely with your child’s physician, who can check the feeding tube regularly to make sure everything is in place.
Additionally, a dietitian is highly recommended for children who use feeding tubes. A dietitian can loved ones measure the nutrition value the child is receiving, as well as teach proper ways to help feed to help reduce the chances of choking and aspiration.
Seizures are one of the associated disorders of cerebral palsy, although not all children will develop them. For those that do, however, they may be at risk for a reduced lifespan, especially if the seizures are severe.
The reason seizures heighten the risk of a reduced lifespan is because they have the tendency to affect state of consciousness, muscle control, and vision. Prolonged seizures increases the risk of losing oxygen for too long.
Yet, with the aid of healthcare professionals, such as a neurologist who works with children with cerebral palsy, you can learn how to look out for signs that tell you a seizure is oncoming and make plans to keep your child as safe as possible.
Furthermore, a neurologist can help with reducing the amounts of seizures with medication and other forms of intervention.
Children with cognitive issues may have problems with communicating, forming words correctly, hearing voices and commands correctly, and interacting effectively with peers. Experts think that these issues may play a part in a reduced lifespan, although they are unsure if cognitive issues is the reason for it or if it’s due to a more serious impairment that accompanies cognitive problems.
Not all children with cerebral palsy will experience cognitive issues, despite myths. In fact, only around 30% to 50% of all children with cerebral palsy will have some form of cognitive dysfunction.
There are a number of treatment options for children with cognitive issues, but it’s important to work with your physician to determine what’s best for your child. Examples of treatment options include:
- Special education
- Speech and language therapy
- Using other forms of communication, such as tablets and picture boards
The more limited a child is with walking and moving, the more dependent he/she is on others. While less severe forms of mobility restrictions generally do not affect lifespan, children with severe mobility issues, such as those with quadriplegia, run the risk of a lower survival rate.
Although cerebral palsy doesn’t get worse over time, limited mobility has been known to worsen as the child gets older due to the following reasons:
- Weakened body muscles due to lack of movement and exercise
- Pressure sores for lying or sitting in the same place too long
- Contractions from spasticity
- Misaligned spine and hips from spasticity
- Premature aging due to physical limitations
Doctors recommend that all children with cerebral palsy participate in physical therapy, but this is especially important for those who have severe limited mobility. Massage therapy is often recommended as well to help keep the blood flowing properly in muscles that aren’t used enough.
Children with vision problems run the risk of a reduced lifespan, but scientists are currently working on figuring out whether this is due to the vision problem itself or another factor, such as damage in another area of the brain.
Complications and problems that occur due to vision problems can include:
- Impaired ability to read, write, learn, and communicate
- Accidents due to inability to effectively navigate around objects without getting hurt
It’s important to work with your child’s ophthalmologist to help find the best treatment plan for his/her vision issues. Some forms of treatment can help significantly. Treatment should be started as early as possible for the best outcome.