Health issues in young adults with cerebral palsy: Towards a life-span perspective
Sander R. Hilberink, Marij E. Roebroeck, Wilbert Nieuwstraten, Loes Jalink, Johannes M.A. Verheijden and Henk J. Stam
Objective: To obtain better insight into the health issues of young adults with cerebral palsy.
Subjects: Two data sources were used: 54 adults with cerebral palsy (age range 25–36 years) and 48 physicians (members of the Netherlands Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine).
Methods: Adults with cerebral palsy participated in a physical examination and a semi-structured interview assessing several health issues and utilization of healthcare. Rehabilitation physicians completed a questionnaire on impairments they recognized as being related to cerebral palsy.
Results: In the patient sample, pain (59%) and joint deformities (19–57%) were observed most frequently. Evidence of a decrease in the utilization of healthcare services at adult age emerged. Lower gross motor function and cognitive level appeared to be determinants of motor and speech impairments and of the utilization of 3 allied healthcare services. Rehabilitation physicians reported pain (88%), joint deformities (86%) and fatigue (76%) as being cerebral palsy-related health problems in adults.
Conclusion: Based on the high prevalence of pain and joint deformities and the decrease in the utilization of healthcare services, systematic follow-up in adults with cerebral palsy seems warranted. Cerebral palsy needs to be considered as a life-long condition, requiring a life-span perspective in order to better organize optimal care.
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