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News – Quality of life and disability

August 2007

Quality of life and disability

A study of children with mental and physical disability has shown they are as happy as children without the condition. Research quoted in the medical journal The Lancet suggests the children’s physical impairment has no negative effect on their relationships, moods or welfare.

The researchers believe the study of 500 children aged 8-12 years with cerebral palsy emphasises the importance of supporting disabled children to lead full lives. They believe that policies and resources must be in place to make sure children with cerebral palsy are allowed to participate fully in society.

Cerebral palsy affects around 1 in 400 children in the UK and results from the failure of part of the brain to develop before birth or in early childhood, or from brain damage which permanently affects body movement and muscle coordination.

In the recent study European researchers, led by the University of Newcastle, asked the children themselves about several aspects of their lives and compared their responses with those from children of the same age in the general population. Previous studies relied heavily on replies from parents rather than the children themselves.

On most of the areas examined, children with cerebral palsy had similar scores to the general population. Exceptions were schooling and physical well-being, which could not be compared. Lower scores were associated with the presence of pain and the report recommended that pain be carefully assessed in children with the condition.
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