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Self Care

Self-care is any activity children do to care for themselves. For many children with CP, parents are heavily involved in self-care activities. Self-care activities, such as bathing, dressing, grooming and eating, can be difficult for children with CP as self-care depends primarily on use of the upper limbs.[46] For those living with CP, impaired upper limb function affects almost 50% of children and is considered the main factor contributing to decreased activity and participation.[47] Since the hands are used for many self-care tasks, it is logical that sensory and motor impairments would impact daily self-care. The extent of the hand impairment depends on the location and degree of brain damage.[48] Sensory impairments can make getting dressed and brushing teeth difficult. Along with sensory impairments, motor impairments of the hand are thought to be responsible for difficulties experienced in daily, self-care activities.[49] However, motor impairments are more important than sensory impairments, with the most prevalent impairment being finger dexterity (ability to manipulate small objects).[48] Finger dexterity is essential in fastening buttons, doing up zippers and tying shoelaces. With upper limb spasticity, it may be difficult to get dressed in the morning. If the individual with CP also has cognitive deficits, this may add an additional challenge to dressing and grooming.

Children with CP often have oral sensory disturbances meaning that they have too little or too much sensitivity around and in the mouth.[50] An infant with CP may not be able to suck, swallow or chew and this can result in difficulty eating.[50] As mentioned in the above paragraph, finger dexterity is the most prevalent motor impairment.[48] Finger dexterity is essential for manipulating cutlery or bringing food to the mouth. Fine finger dexterity, like picking up a spoon, is more frequently impaired than gross manual dexterity, like spooning food onto a plate.[48] Grip strength impairments are less common.[48] Overall, children with CP may have difficulty chewing and swallowing food, holding utensils, and preparing food due to sensory and motor impairments.

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