Walking and Swallowing Difficulties in Adults with CP

Aging tends to compound the way Cerebral Palsy impacts one’s movement and flexibility. 25% of people with CP who were able to walk as children will lose this ability as they age.

Musculoskeletal abnormalities that were not present during childhood or adolescence can onset in adulthood.  AN individual’s ability to walk independently can be compromised.  Many adults will transition to using mobility aids such as wheelchairs, crutches, or walkers.

Osteoarthritis and degenerative arthritis are the most common adult conditions that impact mobility.  Abnormal joint surfaces and joint compressions interacting over the course of a lifetime contribute to these conditions.  As well, adults with CP have an increased risk of developing overuse syndromes and nerve entrapments.

Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, are also common in adults with CP.  Damage to the nervous system, head or neck can cause these disorders to occur at various stages of development.

Symptoms of Dysphagia in adults are:

  • Coughing during or right after eating/drinking
  • Food or liquid leaking from or getting stuck in the mouth
  • Recurring pheunomia or chest congestion
  • Weight loss, poor nutrition or hydration
  • Embarrassment or lack of enjoyment surrounding eating or drinking in social situations

While walking and swallowing difficulties present added challenges, their effects can be managed with proper treatment.

Author: bforberg

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