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Improving quality of life of children with cerebral palsy: a systematic review of clinical trials


Sing Kai Lo, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 10 Lo Ping Road, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong, China, E-mail:


Objective  To systematically review the impact of different interventions on quality of life (QoL) for children with cerebral palsy.

Methods  English articles were sought from five major English databases from inceptions until March 2010. Keywords used consisted of four components (and their variants): (i) clinical condition: cerebral palsy; (ii) outcome measures: quality of life, well-being; (iii) study design: clinical trials; and (iv) target population: people aged 0–18.

Results  Eight studies satisfied the inclusion criteria, all of which are of good to excellent quality (a Jadad score of 4 or above). The Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory, the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, the TNO-AZL Children's Health-Related Quality of Life and the Caregiver Priorities and Child Health Index of Life with Disabilities were used to measure QoL. Significant positive results were reported by two studies using medicinal interventions (diazepam and intrathecal baclofen therapy, effect sizes 5.9, 9.1 respectively) and two studies employing motor control approach training (strength training and exercise training, former effect size being 3.8).

Conclusion  Current review suggests that positive effect was shown in medicinal and motor control interventions on QoL. However, no single interventional approach can demonstrate a consistent positive impact on QoL across different studies. Future studies are recommended to (i) provide a clear definition of QoL, and investigate the relationship between symptoms' severity and QoL; (ii) measure outcome at different time points to capture real effects of interventions; and (iii) make more use of valid outcome instruments, either self-report or parent/caregiver proxy reports.