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Functional status of adults with cerebral palsy and implications for treatment of children

date:  2001 Aug;43(8):516-28.
author: Bottos M1, Feliciangeli A, Sciuto L, Gericke C, Vianello A.
publication: Dev Med Child Neurol.


This study examined the evolution of individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) from childhood to adulthood. Seventy-two adults with a diagnosis of CP born between 1934 and 1980 were studied. Individuals were recruited and data comprehensively collected using case notes and through direct assessments of the majority of participants from three rehabilitation units in Bologna, Padua, and Rovigo in Italy. The main findings can be summarized as follows: contact with health and rehabilitation services was radically reduced once individuals reached adulthood; more individuals who were integrated into mainstream schools achieved and maintained literacy than those who had attended special schools; in a high number of participants, motor performance deteriorated once into adulthood. Independent walking or other forms of supported locomotion were lost in many on reaching adulthood. Of those who continued to walk, walking deteriorated in terms of distance. It was concluded that even though CP has been considered as predominantly a childhood pathological condition, the evolution of the effects of CP do not stop at 16 or 18 years of age. For this reason, the traditional child- (or infant-) oriented approach concentrating mainly or exclusively on the achievement of independent walking, may not be an ideal approach to children with CP. Instead a more independence-oriented therapeutic approach would be appropriate.