A Comprehensive Cerebral Palsy Resource

Cerebral Palsy Life Expectancy

Some mental illnesses and neurological conditions come with an associated shorter length of life. What is true if you or your child is affected cerebral palsy? How does cerebral palsy affect your lifespan, if at all?

Early in the 20th century, few people affected by cerebral palsy survived into adulthood. Advances in medical technology fortunately help most people with cerebral palsy live into adulthood. This increase in life expectancy, however, comes with added health challenges faced later in life.

In general, people with cerebral palsy live to be anywhere from 30 to 70 years old. The less severe the symptoms they experience, the longer you are likely to live.

There has not been extensive study performed on the life expectancy of people with cerebral palsy. One study conducted by Strauss, Brooks, Rosenbloom, and Shavelle in 2008 (and published in the 50th volume of the 2008 edition of Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology) revealed the following:

  • In general, males and females with mild cerebral palsy have lifespans significantly shorter than the general population
  • The more severe the symptoms of cerebral palsy, the shorter the person’s life expectancy
  • Young adult males and females fed by tube or by other people have a far shorter life expectancy than the general population
  • Individuals who cannot lift their heads as young adults have a much shorter life span than the general population
  •  Individuals with cerebral palsy who walk unaided have the longest lifespans, which are slightly shorter than lifespans in the general population

Extensive research targeting life expectancy more precisely still must be performed. These researchers admit their research methodology is not perfect, although other researchers have found similar results.

Unfortunately, the increased life expectancy comes along with significant medical challenges and other impairments in functioning. Many of these are present at a much earlier age than you would find in the general population.

Additional health challenges you or your child may face as an adult include:

  • Premature aging
  • Depression
  • Difficulty functioning on the job
  •  Early onset arthritis
  • Post-impairment syndrome
  • Acute or chronic pain issues
  • Hypertension
  • Incontinence
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Increased spine curvature

How Can You Increase Your Longevity if you have Cerebral Palsy?

Fortunately, just because you or your child is affected by this condition does not mean you are resigned to a certain lifespan. The condition itself is not progressive, however, associated conditions may change and progress over time.

The more proactive you are in seeking treatment and therapy for cerebral palsy, the longer your life expectancy is likely to be.