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Helping with daily routines

Each person with CP has unique strengths and areas of difficulty. But most people who have CP need ongoing help with:

  • Using the toilet. Some people who have CP have poor bladder control or problems that make using a toilet difficult. Special undergarments and training by an occupational therapist may help.
  • Bowel elimination. People who have CP often become constipated, making stools difficult to pass. For information about preventing and treating constipation, see the topic Constipation, Age 11 and Younger or Constipation, Age 12 and Older.
  • Dressing. Provide clothing and shoes that are easy to put on and take off, such as those that zip or button in the front or that have large buttons, ties, or Velcro fasteners.
  • Speaking. Problems with jaw and mouth muscles, and also hearing loss, can make it difficult to form words. Speaking slowly and reading with your child often are examples of ways to help your child communicate.
  • Keeping active. Your child needs to move his or her limbs to help keep muscles strong and joints flexible. Have him or her move and play as much as possible. Involve other family members too. Ask the doctor, physical therapist, or other parents for ideas.
  • Safety. People who have CP are prone to falls and other accidents, especially if they have seizures. You can take safety measures at home—such as having sturdy furniture—to help your child avoid accidents. Use common sense and care around sharp objects. And never leave a person who has CP alone while he or she is bathing.

Feeding and grooming

  • Feeding and eating. Children with CP may have problems being able to chew, suck, and swallow. Using special utensils and serving soft foods may help. A registered dietitian can suggest ways to help your child eat healthy foods and make food easier to chew and swallow. A person with severe CP may need a feeding tube in order to eat.
  • Bathing and grooming. People who have CP who do not have control of their hands or arms usually cannot groom themselves. Some children can be taught some self-grooming with practice.

Dental and skin care

  • Dental care. CP can cause problems with the jaw muscles, teeth, mouth, and tongue. And it can make it hard to use a toothbrush. Regular cleanings and special equipment, such as a teeth-cleaning water spray, can help.
  • Skin care. Drooling can cause skin irritation around the chin, mouth, and chest. You can help protect your child's skin by blotting rather than wiping drool, using cloths to cover the chest, and applying lotions or cornstarch to areas that get irritated.

Teen years

As your child approaches the teen years and young adulthood, be aware of his or her changing needs.

  • Give teens and adults with CP plenty of emotional support and understanding. Family members and friends can help them deal with the daily challenges of having CP.
  • Gradually prepare your child for independent living. Usually teens have learned to use their talents and strengths. But they may need extra help and encouragement to prepare for added expectations and responsibilities.
  • Talk to your teen about intimate relationships. Teens and young adults with CP may need more guidance than other people their age in developing these relationships.

Learn to change your routines as your child with CP grows and develops. For example, you may not be able to continue caring for a severely affected child who is growing tall and heavy. Try to plan ahead for the time when your grown child with CP is not under your care.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 20, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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