Personal home care assistants play an important role in the care of children and adults with cerebral palsy. Typically, the needs of people with cerebral palsy are similar to those of other patients – they are able to work, attend college and have a successful careers and families. Their specific needs are related to the nature of the condition, so to better understand the type of care CP patients require – first, you need to understand CP itself.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy is “a group of permanent disorders of the development of movement and posture, causing activity limitations that are attributed to non-progressive disturbances that occurred in the developing fetal or infant brain”. It’s important to note that CP refers only to motor disability, although the condition is commonly associated with other developmental problems: intellectual disability, epilepsy, visual or hearing impairments, and behavioral problems.
There are several conditions associated with cerebral palsy that often lead to medical problems which require follow-up and treatment. These are:
- Epilepsy (with long-term side effects of treatment)
- Hearing or visual loss, which may be progressive
- Respiratory Insufficiency (especially with prematurity or scoliosis)
- Hypertension (especially with prematurity)
- Nutritional problems, including under-weight and over-weight
- Kidney stones
- Fatigue and depression
Nursing Care for People with Cerebral Palsy
There are multiple care options available for children and adults with cerebral palsy, and they largely depend on the individual’s personal wishes as well as the capacity of their family to afford/accommodate them.
Personal homecare nursing services are the most preferred method of care as they allow for care in the “least restrictive environment.” The individual can continue to stay at home and in-home nurses may assist the family in providing care.
There are three main components in the care for individuals with cerebral palsy, namely:
- Pain management
- Engagement in activities
The presence of pain leaves a great mark on the quality of life of individuals with cerebral palsy. Among the common types of pain faced by adults with cerebral palsy are back, hip, and lower extremity pain, pain associated with low bone mineral density and fractures, and pain resulting from unhealthily high or low levels of weight.
There are ways to cope with chronic pain and make it more bearable, which include:
- Task persistence, which sees personal assistants help patients perform a particular task despite the presence of pain
- Attention diversion, which takes one’s mind off of pain by helping them focus on other thoughts
- Reinterpretation of pain sensations
Engagement in Activities
Engagement in activities gives people with cerebral palsy a sense of purpose and belonging. Those who are more socially engaged also live with less pain and enjoy longer lives. While many times it may feel as though social opportunities for adults with cerebral palsy are limited, there are typically many opportunities available in metropolitan areas.
Socialization is an important aspect of leading a fulfilled and balanced life with cerebral palsy. The more engaged they are in social activities, the happier they feel. Those who are more socially engaged also live with less pain and enjoy longer lives.
It is part of the personal nursing assistants’ responsibility to encourage and facilitate socialization for their patients in a safe and friendly settings. There are many places, where individuals with cerebral palsy can go to socialize – local parks, clubs, communities and organizations.
You may or may not realize the full extent some physical limitations play in the life of a person with cerebral palsy. This is where a personal nursing assistant can make a huge difference in helping them through these challenges to lead a happy, healthy life. A person- centered approach, beyond medical needs alone is helpful to achieve this goal.