Relationships among musculoskeletal impairments and functional health status in ambulatory cerebral palsy

Mark F. Abel*, Diane L. Damiano, John S. Blanco, Mark Conaway, Freeman Miller, Kirk Dabney, David Sutherland, Henry Chambers, Luciano Dias, John F Sarwark, John Killian, Scott Doyle, Leon Root, Javier LaPlaza, Roger Widmann, Brian Snyder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Orthopedic surgery for patients with cerebral palsy addresses motion impairments, assuming that this will improve motor function. This study evaluates the relationships among clinical impairment measures with standardized assessments of function and disability as an initial step in testing this assumption. A total of 129 ambulatory children and adolescents across six institutions participated in a prospective evaluation that consisted of passive motion and spasticity examination of the lower extremities, three-dimensional gait temporal-spatial and kinematic analysis, and administration of the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) and the Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument (PODCI). The analysis found that isolated impairment measures of motion and spasticity were only weakly related to motor function in cerebral palsy and even when averaged across multiple joints yielded no more than a fair correlation with functional scores, nor did a combination of impairments emerge that could predict substantial variance in motor function. These findings suggest that caution should be exercised when anticipating functional change through the treatment of isolated impairment and that addressing multiple impairments may be needed to produce appreciable effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-541
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Gait
  • Motor function
  • Spasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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