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How Does Cerebral Palsy Affect Those Who Have It?

According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, the physical and mental effects of cerebral palsy may include the following:

  • Mobility issues: some people with CP may need mobility aids such as a walker or a wheelchair. 1 in 3 people with CP cannot walk.

  • Communication issues: some people with CP may have slow or slurred speech. 1 in 4 people with CP cannot talk.

  • Pain: pain may be caused by impairments associated with CP such as “contractures, abnormal postures, dystonia, skin breakdown, hip subluxation, Gastro-oesophageal reflux and scoliosis” (CPA). 3 in 4 people with CP experience pain.

  • Eating and drinking issues: some people with CP have dysphagia (difficulty chewing and swallowing) or may have issues with the fine motor skills necessary to hold cutlery. 1 in 15 people with CP need a feeding tube.

  • Saliva control: some people with CP have weakness in the facial muscles that causes saliva loss.

  • Intellectual disability: 1 in 2 people with CP have an intellectual disability, and 1 in 5 has a moderate/severe intellectual disability. Intellectual disabilities do not necessarily correlate with physical disabilities.

  • Learning difficulties: children with CP may have short attention spans or issues with perception and language, as well as issues with gross and fine motor skills, which can make learning new information difficult.

  • Hearing impairment: 1 in 20 people with CP have hearing impairment, and 1 in 25 children with CP are deaf.

  • Vision impairment: more severe forms of CP are often associated with vision problems. 1 in 10 children with CP are blind.

  • Behaviour and emotional wellbeing: 1 in 4 children with CP have behavioural issues, which may increase with severe impairments. Children with CP may also have issues with strong emotional responses and relating emotionally to their peers. Adolescent and adult people with CP may be prone to anxiety and depression.

  • Epilepsy: 1 in 4 children with CP have epilepsy.

  • Sleep issues: 1 in 5 children with CP have sleep disorders which may be associated with muscle spasms, lack of muscle control, pain, epilepsy, or vision impairment.

  • Spine and hip abnormalities: 1 in 3 children with CP have hip displacement; these abnormalities may cause chronic pain.

  • Bladder and bowel control: some people with CP experience continence and constipation, and 1 in 4 children with CP have bladder control issues.

Societal challenges faced by individuals with cerebral palsy differ based on a variety of factors (age, location, underlying conditions, etc.), but many people with CP struggle with accessibility, independence, inclusivity, underemployment, social isolation, and inadequate support services. These are some of the struggles which the Cerebral Palsy Association of Newfoundland and Labrador strives to help alleviate for those with CP and other disabilities.


For more research and information on challenges faced by those with cerebral palsy, take a look at our bibliography page, which contains links to and/or titles of relevant books, articles, and webpages.

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