Neuroimpairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions in children with cerebral palsy


* Correspondence to first author at Department of Paediatrics, the Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, Göteborg University, S-416 85 Göteborg, Sweden. E-mail


In a representative series of 176 children with cerebral palsy (CP), aged 5 to 8 years, associations were studied between additional neuroimpairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions in the domains of mobility, education, and social relations as proposed in the International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF). Learning disability occurred in 40%, epilepsy in 35%, visual impairment in 20%, and infantile hydrocephalus in 9% of the children. Additional neuroimpairments were most frequently seen in children with tetraplegia and dystonic CP and in those with antecedents of brain malformations or severe perinatal compromise. Activity limitations were studied with the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) and a system for grading bimanual fine motor function (BFMF) was developed. There was a strong correlation of 0.74 between the GMFCS and BFMF (p<0.001). Learning disability, activity limitations, and participation restrictions were all clinically strongly associated with each other (p<0.001). Restriction in mobility was best predicted by the GMFCS, learning disability, and the BFMF; in education by learning disability and the GFMCS; and in social relations by learning disability, the GMFCS, and BFMF. Motor function and learning disability were important predictors for participation restrictions in children with CP. The ICF has the capacity to be a model to help plan interventions for specific functional goals and to ascertain the child's participation in society.