Cerebral Palsy (cont.)

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What is the long-term outlook for patients with cerebral palsy?

The answer is complex. Since cerebral palsy is actually a set of symptoms associated with a variety of causes, potential treatments will have to be diverse. Many scientists are now focusing on recent discoveries that suggest we will be able to replace lost or damaged brain cells. While such therapies are not yet available, it is likely that real clinical trials will begin in the next 5 to 10 years.

The more we know about the causes of cerebral palsy, the more we can do to prevent it. For example the use of folic acid in sexually active women may prevent central nervous system malformations that might lead to cerebral palsy. Avoiding the use of certain drugs during the pregnancy whether legal, such as prescribed medications, alcohol or tobacco, or illegal such as cocaine and crack, will also decrease the changes of cerebral palsy in a child.

It cannot be overemphasized that the most important person in the lives of children with cerebral palsy is their caregiver. The caregiver, whether a parent or other person, must be able to recognize a child's needs and provide for him or her in a loving, positive environment. Because of the difficulty that many children with cerebral palsy have in expressing their needs, they are at great risk for unintentional and intentional neglect as well as overt child abuse. Often, the care of children with cerebral palsy can be quite taxing emotionally and financially on the family. The appropriate care for children with cerebral palsy, therefore, must take into account mental health and financial support for families and caregivers. Many state-run programs provide out-of-home schooling as well as respite care for the caregivers, but these services often fall short of what is truly needed. Health care professionals can very simply improve the lives of their patients by taking some extra time to listen to the concerns and hopes of the caregivers and provide thoughtful answers to their questions.

We must recognize that many, and possibly most, children with cerebral palsy can lead full, meaningful, and happy lives. The team of parents, caregivers, and health practitioners has the responsibility to help the child with cerebral palsy achieve this goal.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/2/2012

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Cerebral Palsy - Share Your Experience Question: Do you, a relative, or friend have cerebral palsy? Please describe your experience.
Cerebral Palsy - Symptoms Question: What are the main symptoms associated with cerebral palsy in you or a relative?
Cerebral Palsy - Treatment and Therapy Question: What kinds of treatment and therapy has your child received for cerebral palsy?
Cerebral Palsy - Other Conditions Question: What other conditions do you or a relative have in addition to cerebral palsy? Please share your story.

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