University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Growing older with cerebral palsy: insiders' perspectives


Horsman, M., Suto, M., Dudgeon, B., & Harris, S.R



Publication Info:

Pediatric Physical Therapy, 22:296-303


PURPOSE: Research has shown that adults with cerebral palsy (CP) lose functional abilities earlier than persons who are able-bodied. Because CP is a lifespan disability, developmental therapists should be aware of these changes.
METHODS: We used descriptive phenomenology to understand the unique, lived experiences of adults growing older with CP. Data were gathered through in-depth, semistructured interviews. Open-ended questions asked what it was like to age with CP, how these experiences were understood, how strategies were used to cope with changes, and what are the meanings of these experiences.
RESULTS: A theme, Awareness, Acceptance, and Action, emerged from the data analysis. Participants were aware that their bodies were deteriorating quicker than those of peers who are able-bodied. They developed acceptance that hastened actions toward improving their quality of life.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings provide insights for pediatric therapists who work with children with CP about what may be important to their clients as they grow older.

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