For people with cerebral palsy, there are a lot of considerations when choosing your health care providers. The NSW Council for Intellectual Disability has a resource to help you find the right doctor, summarized below.
What are your health risk factors?
Adults with disabilities are more likely to be overweight, or obese, than adults without disabilities. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, almost one-third of people with complex activity limitations and 30% of people with basic physical difficulties were obese, compared with 19%of adults who did not have disabilities.
Understanding your cardiovascular disease risk factors is the first step for you to take control over your health. Begin by screening for metabolic syndrome as earlier as possible, even if you don't think that you have any signs and symptoms. The key is prevention.
When should you see the doctor?
Every year, at least for an annual health and physical assessment. Try to schedule your first visit when you are healthy and establish a consistent relationship with your doctor.
What experience should the doctor have?
See if the doctor does an annual Medicare health assessment or coordinates follow-up care. Ask if the doctor has experience with people with intellectual disability, or if they'd like to know more or receive written information. You should also determine whether they coordinate with other disability professionals or if they have a height-adjustable examination bed.
What type of doctors should you look for?
Contact your local general practitioner network for information about doctors who have an interest in people with disabilities.
The Cerebral Palsy Adult Transition study is supported by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, Department of Health and Human Services, grant #H133G130200.