Most adults with cerebral palsy experience post-impairment syndrome. This condition is the result of a combination of factors caused by the stresses that cerebral palsy places on the body.
These factors may include:
fatigue (people with cerebral palsy use up to three times the energy required for walking than able-bodied people)
arthritis (caused by the increased pressure that the condition puts on the bones and joints)
repetitive strain injury
Further physiotherapy and equipment that can assist walking, such as a wheelchair or walking frame, may help relieve some of these symptoms.
Body organ problems
Most adults with cerebral palsy will experience premature ageing of their body organ systems (such as the heart, veins and arteries) by the time they reach 40. This is partly because of the strain that the condition puts on the body.
Also, many people with cerebral palsy do not have fully developed organs. This means that their organs often have to work harder than normal to compensate for the lack of development.
Adults with cerebral palsy should avoid activities that could further damage their organs, such as smoking, drinking an excessive amount of alcohol and eating a high-fat diet.
The daily challenges of living with a chronic condition such as cerebral palsy can cause stress and anxiety, which in turn can trigger conditions such as depression.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective in helping people fight their depression and cope better with their condition.
CBT is based on the principle that the way we feel is partly dependent on the way we think about things. People who trained themselves to react differently to their condition, using relaxation techniques and maintaining a positive attitude, reported that their levels of pain, stress and depression went down.
Making contact with other people living with cerebral palsy may help. Scope, a charity for people with cerebral palsy, operates an internet forum for people with the condition.