girl with the sniffles

Respiratory Health

When a child or adult has cerebral palsy, there are numerous areas of his or her overall health that need to be monitored. One of the most important is a child’s respiratory health. Respiratory health depends on the ability to breath properly, cough correctly, and manage respiratory infections promptly.

Children with cerebral palsy, especially if they have oral motor dysfunction, are vulnerable to respiratory complications due to aspiration, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and respiratory distress syndrome. Many of these medical conditions can be life-threatening if they are not managed properly.


What is respiratory health?

Typically, a child with cerebral palsy has a lower activity level than most children. When a child is unable to exercise in a manner that causes deep breathing, air passages are more likely to become infected and the muscles used for breathing aren’t fully exercised. Exercising the lungs to clear phlegm.

If children experience trouble controlling muscle function and have feeding or swallowing difficulties, they may also be unable to cough up material left in the passageways, which can contribute to infection.

If a child has a structural deformity, such as curvature of the spine, muscle tone and gravity may contribute to chest wall deformity, which, in turn, can lead to restricted lung function and the potential for unequal lung expansion. When breathing is labored, it predisposes a child to respiratory dysfunction and, in some extreme cases, failure.

Children with cerebral palsy are often born preterm. Premature babies frequently arrive with serious lung conditions, like bronchopulmonary dysplasia and respiratory distress syndrome. Lack of oxygen during pregnancy or during birth can cause cerebral palsy.

Malnourished or undernourished children are subject to atrophy and weakness that can also reduce lung function and lead to a weakened resistance to infection. Those with frequent aspiration are more prone to develop pneumonia, as well, which is a serious condition for young children.


Respiratory health must be monitored

Parents are urged to monitor their child’s respiratory health. If the child experiences recurrent chest infections, pneumonia, frequent aspiration, or persistent coughs, a respiratory specialist is warranted. Upon evaluation they may even refer the child to a gastroenterologist, a dietician or a speech and language therapist for additional assessment.

If the child is unable to control and coordinate facial muscles – properly sealing lips around a mouthpiece, for example – some tests required to assess respiratory conditions, as well as some therapy options, may be recommended.


Respiratory functioning is a factor in life expectancy

Respiratory difficulties can lead to serious health risks including aspiration, pneumonia and respiratory failure. Maintaining optimal respiratory health is a key component to life expectancy in those with cerebral palsy.

Respiratory functioning, as well as swallowing and chewing difficulties, is a factor in reduced life expectancy for children with cerebral palsy. Respiratory dysfunction can lead to malnutrition. Respiratory distress makes it difficult for the body to function and can lead to life-threatening heart conditions.

Difficulty in swallowing and feeding can lead to the inhalation of food particles. This can cause infection in the lungs or pneumonia, which are also of concern. Severity and frequency of respiratory infection is a significant life expectancy factor.

For more information, Life Expectancy of Cerebral Palsy


Respiratory interventions promote healthy breathing

Lung function, sleep apnea, breathing functions and coughing mechanisms can be assessed. Nutritional assessments recommend to feeding interventions which can improve respiratory function.

Respiratory intervention may include a number of potential options; respiratory supports, inhalers, feeding instructions, speech therapy, dietary changes, nutrition counseling, prophylactic antibiotics, and options that involve nasogastic intubation in the short-term, or gastrostomy for long-term intervention.

The goal of respiratory intervention is to increase quality-of-life, promote healthier breathing options, and reduce risk of (or prevent) life-threatening health conditions.

Respiratory conditions commonly associated with cerebral palsy which requires identification, treatment and prevention, include:

  • Aspiration
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Asthma
  • Breathing problems
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Gastro-esophageal reflux (GER)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Respiratory complications
  • Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)


father laughing with son in wheelchair

Associative Conditions

Cerebral palsy affects muscle tone, gross and fine motor functions, balance, coordination, and posture. These conditions are mainly orthopedic in nature and are considered primary conditions of cerebral palsy. There are associative conditions, like seizures and intellectual impairment that are common in individuals with cerebral palsy. And, there are co-mitigating factors that co-exist with cerebral palsy, but are unrelated to it. Understanding conditions commonly associated with cerebral palsy will enhance your ability to manage your child’s unique health concerns.
Associative Conditions »




  • Nurse posing with child that is hugging a teddybear

    Types and forms of cerebral palsy

    Several cerebral palsy classification systems exist today to define the type and form of cerebral palsy an individual has. The classification is complicated by the wide range of clinical presentations and degrees of activity limitation that exist. Knowing the severity, location and type of cerebral palsy your child has will help to coordinate care and fund treatment.
    Types and Forms »

  • two doctors examining a smiling young child

    Treatment for cerebral palsy

    Treating cerebral palsy is almost as complex as the condition is, and there’s no cookie-cutter approach because each individual is affected differently. Although the brain injury that causes cerebral palsy cannot be healed, the resulting physical impairment can be managed with a wide range of treatments and therapies. Although there is no universal protocol developed for all cases, a person’s form of cerebral palsy, extent of impairment, and severity level help to determine care.
    Treatment »

  • baby receiving a baby massage on his feet

    Therapy for cerebral palsy

    A person’s ability to transcend his or her physical limits is in no small part due to the kinds of therapies that are used to fine-tune his or her abilities. Therapy fosters functionality, mobility, fitness, and independence. The types of therapies vary based on a person’s unique needs, form of cerebral palsy, extent of impairment, and associative conditions. Therapy can also help parents and caregivers.
    Therapy »

img_1

Would you like more information about the conditions commonly associated with cerebral palsy?


This kit can help!
Kit No. 220WO - Conditions Commonly Associated with Cerebral Palsy

Call

to order!

MORE


MyChild™

Contact us today!


For security purposes -
1 + 1 = 

Unable to fetch the feed
Error :
  • A feed could not be found at http://www.facebook.com/feeds/page.php?id=298210246955236&format=rss20. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

RSS Feed currently unavailable.

twitterTwitter outputted an error:
Invalid or expired token..
  • Free Guide: Summer with Cerebral Palsy

    After the amazing response our posts on travel tips, camp for children with CP, warm weather resources, wheelchair-friendly special needs vacations and June activities received, we thought it would be a great help to the community to put together a resour...

  • Why We Need Cerebral Palsy Advocates More Than Ever

    Our organization has now been in existence for over two decades, providing parents of children with Cerebral Palsy access to the resources needed to improve lives and limit the impact CP can have. Today, we speak with and help hundreds of families every d...

  • Speaking to Young Children about Differences

    Discussing the differences people have can be complicated enough, much less while trying to explain to children. Often adults tiptoe around the situation in order to avoid talking about it, choosing silence rather than a learning experience. The truth is ...

  • A New Look for MyChild

    It is our pleasure and with great excitement that we announce a new, improved look to MyChild / CerebralPalsy.org is coming soon! While it would be easy to simply launch the site and surprise visitors new and established with our fresh look, we want to he...

  • Five Topics for Cerebral Palsy Parents in June

    While it may be easy to spot the items that are relevant to the winter months due to the holidays and natural breaks in scheduling, there are other topics of focus for special needs parents during June, too! June 21st marks the first day of summer, but th...