Concern about the connection between cerebral palsy and aging has increased, particularly because most of the available information about cerebral palsy focuses on its impact on children. Research has been conducted, however, to study how it affects individuals as they age. In appearance, it seems that people with cerebral palsy physically exhibit more severe aging symptoms than their peers. The connection between cerebral palsy and aging does not seem to be causal, though, because the disorder itself does not worsen with age.
Although symptoms of cerebral palsy affect one’s muscles and motor skills, this condition actually originates within the brain. Specifically, it is a neurological disorder caused by a brain infection or severe head trauma, which then prevents normal muscle coordination. Cerebral palsy usually is discovered while the sufferer is in infancy, although some cases are not diagnosed until two or three years after birth. Some of the many symptoms of cerebral palsy include poor coordination, dragging a foot or leg while walking, stiff muscles, spastic movements and walking on the toes.
Cerebral palsy does not worsen with age. If a person is diagnosed with mild, moderate or severe symptoms as a child, he or she will carry the same level of symptoms into adulthood. Therefore, the connection between cerebral palsy and aging is not causal. Aging does appear, however, to magnify these same symptoms because they have affected the body for so long.
As with the normal aging process, neglect of one’s health becomes physically apparent with age. In patients with cerebral palsy, this evidence can appear to be more severe and can present itself sooner. For instance, if perfectly healthy people do not engage in regular physical exercise, they might begin to experience a decline in balance or strength as they approach their senior years. If people who have cerebral palsy do not practice good health maintenance, this decline might become evident at a younger age and might even appear to be present at a more pronounced degree. This is not because the disorder has worsened, it is because cerebral palsy has already worn down the body after so many years, and a lack of proper care for the body will make it appear that the disorder has become more severe.
In researching cerebral palsy and aging, doctors have discovered that, just as with other aging populations, maintaining good health is a key factor in aging well. Preventative health strategies, such as engaging in routine physical exercise and consuming a healthy diet, are important throughout a person’s lifetime. By doing so, many people who have this disorder often can still enjoy a decent quality of life well into their senior years.