• cerebral palsy;
  • child nursing;
  • disability;
  • epidemiology;
  • orthopaedics;
  • pain;
  • study protocol


Title. Lifestyle limitations of children and young people with severe cerebral palsy: a population study protocol

Aim.  This paper is a presentation of a study protocol to establish the prevalence of orthopaedic problems (hip dislocation, pelvic obliquity, spinal deformity and contractures) and their impact on pain, function, participation and health in a population of children and young people with severe cerebral palsy.

Background.  Cerebral palsy is the commonest cause of motor impairment in childhood and is associated with life-long disability. An estimated 30% of people with cerebral palsy have severe forms and are non-ambulant. Although the underlying neurological damage is not amenable to correction, many health services are dedicated to providing therapeutic and adaptive support to help people with the condition reach their potential.

Method.  A cross-sectional survey of children and young people, aged 4–25 years with severe, non-ambulant cerebral palsy as defined using the Gross Motor Function Classification System (Levels IV and V). Study participants will be identified from a pre-existing, geographically defined case register and recruited via a healthcare professional known to them. Two assessments will be undertaken: one involving parents/carers at home and using questionnaires; the other involving the child/young person ideally in one of three settings and including X-rays if clinically indicated.

Discussion.  This study will contribute to our knowledge of the history and epidemiology of orthopaedic problems in children and young people with cerebral palsy and how these problems accumulate and impact on participation, health and well-being. The study will also identify unmet need and make recommendations for good practice in relation to the orthopaedic care and management for people with severe cerebral palsy.