According to a news release issued by the American Therapy Association (APTA), a study from Europe indicates that in general, the self-reported quality of life (QoL) among adolescents with cerebral palsy (CP) is not much different than their peers without disability; however it could be further enhanced by greater attention paid to pain early on.
The study appears ahead of print in the October 7 issue of The Lancet
The release reports that researchers collected responses to a survey (KIDSCREEN) issued to the same group of 355 individuals with CP at two different points in their lives. The first was as children aged 8 to 12 years old and then later as adolescents aged 13 to 17 years old. The study then sought to compare the responses with results from adolescents without a disability and longitudinally within the respondents with CP.
The study authors classify their findings as “encouraging,” and suggest that among 10 QoL domains studied—physical wellbeing, psychological wellbeing, moods and emotions, self-perception, autonomy, relationships with peers, social support and peers, school life, finances, and social acceptance—adolescents with CP were on par with their peers without disabilities on 9 domains, with only “social support and peers” scoring lower for the group with CP.
The authors state in the release “individual and societal attitudes should be affected by the similarity [of scores] in children with cerebral palsy and the general population.” They add that only the quality of peer relationships is on average lower…and “therefore such adolescents need particular help to maintain and develop peer relationships.”
Additionally, when authors investigated respondents with CP from a longitudinal perspective, they reportedly pinpointed some correlation between psychological difficulties and parenting stress in childhood to lower QoL reporting in adolescence, and an even stronger connection between pain and the lower scores.
The release notes that the authors explain, “In the models combining the postulated predictors of [quality of life], pain, especially in adolescence, remained a significant predictor of QoL in all domains apart from autonomy, social support and peers, and financial resources.”
The authors go on to write that while the rights of individuals with disabilities to participate in society are recognized and being implemented in many countries, adolescents with disabilities may still be regarded as having unhappy, unfulfilled lives. The study’s findings, the authors say, challenge this view and are now supported by their large epidemiological study.
In the release, the authors conclude that children with below average QoL, early interventions to improve high levels of psychological issues, parenting stress, and especially child pain, will likely provide long-term benefits across many domains of a young person’s life.