TUESDAY, Oct. 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) --Teens with cerebral palsy are just as happy with their lives as teens without the physical disability, a new survey shows.
Despite facing numerous challenges, young people with cerebral palsy report having better attitudes about key aspects of their lives than teens who do not have the neurological disorder that impairs movement and motor ability.
The British researchers did find that high levels of pain, parental stress and a lack of social support can take a toll, however.
The findings challenge "the widespread perception that adolescents with disabilities have unhappy, unfulfilled lives," wrote study author Allan Colver, a professor of community child health at Newcastle University in England.
The study, published Oct. 6 in The Lancet, involved 431 teens between the ages of 13 and 17 with cerebral palsy from nine regions of Europe. The adolescents completed a survey about their quality of life, and were asked about their physical and psychological well-being, as well as their moods and emotions. The participants also rated how they perceived themselves, their independence, their relationships with their parents and the social support they received from their peers, as well as their school life, financial resources and social acceptance.
The researchers pointed out that 355 of the teens had completed this questionnaire when they were between the ages of 8 and 12.
The researchers then compared all of their answers with the responses of similar teens who did not have cerebral palsy.
The study revealed that teens with cerebral palsy and the teens without the condition reported having a similar overall quality of life. Those with cerebral palsy, however, reported even better quality of life when it came to their moods and emotions, self-perception, independence, relationships with their parents and their school life.
But the researchers found one thing worse for those with cerebral palsy: the amount of social support they received from their friends and peers.
Meanwhile, the teens with cerebral palsy who experienced more severe motor impairment also had worse quality of life when it came to their moods and emotions and level of independence.
And the researchers found that teens with cerebral palsy who had greater levels of pain reported worse quality of life in all aspects of their life.
"Clinicians should intervene early in childhood to ameliorate extremes of pain, psychological problems and parenting stress, for which effective interventions are available," Colver said in a journal news release. "Attention should be directed to helping children with cerebral palsy, especially those who are more severely impaired, to maintain friendships with peers, and to develop new friendships as they move into adolescence."
Alexander Hoon and Elaine Stashinko, from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, wrote a commentary that accompanied the study.
The study "suggests that children and adolescents with cerebral palsy may need particular help maintaining and developing peer relationships," they said in the news release.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides more information on cerebral palsy.