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Aim

The aim of the study was to investigate whether impairments associated with cerebral palsy were stable between childhood and adolescence.

Method

The Study of Participation of Children with Cerebral Palsy Living in Europe (SPARCLE) longitudinal study was conducted in nine European regions. In total, 818 children aged 8 to 12 years were randomly selected from population-based registers; 594 (73%) were followed up at the age of 13 to 17 years (344 males, 250 females; median age 10y 4mo) Research associates visited them in their homes and recorded their motor function and additional impairments. Stability of impairment was assessed using the weighted kappa coefficient.

Results

The proportion of participants whose level of impairment remained unchanged varied from 63% for fine motor function to 98% for hearing. For gross motor function, communication, and cognitive level, the kappa and the lower bound of its 95% confidence interval (CI) were above 0.75, indicating stability between childhood and adolescence; for fine motor function and feeding, the kappa was above 0.75 but the lower bound of the 95% CI was below 0.75, indicating probable stability; for seizures and vision, the kappa was below 0.75, although the upper bound of the 95% CI was above 0.75, indicating possible change; for hearing the kappa and its entire CI were below 0.75, indicating change. Overall, 81% of participants had no seizures in childhood, of whom 93% were seizure-free in adolescence.

Interpretation

Motor function and additional impairments were generally stable between childhood and adolescence.