Communication ability in cerebral palsy: a study from the CP register of western Sweden.

Research paper by Kate K Himmelmann, Karin K Lindh, Mary Jo Cooley MJ Hidecker

Indexed on: 16 May '13Published on: 16 May '13Published in: European Journal of Paediatric Neurology


Communication is often impaired in cerebral palsy (CP). Tools are needed to describe this complex function, in order to provide effective support.To study communication ability and the relationship between the Communication Function Classification System (CFCS) and CP subtype, gross motor function, manual ability, cognitive function and neuroimaging findings in the CP register of western Sweden.Sixty-eight children (29 girls), 14 with unilateral spastic CP, 35 with bilateral spastic CP and 19 with dyskinetic CP, participated. The CFCS, Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) and Manual Ability Classification System (MACS) levels, cognitive impairment and neuroimaging findings were recorded.Half the children used speech, 32% used communication boards/books and 16% relied on body movements, eye gaze and sounds. Twenty-eight per cent were at the most functional CFCS level I, 13% at level II, 21% at level III, 10% at level IV and 28% at level V. CFCS levels I-II were found in 71% of children with unilateral spastic CP, 46% in bilateral spastic CP and 11% in dyskinetic CP (p = 0.03). CFCS correlated with the GMFCS, MACS and cognitive function (p < 0.01). Periventricular lesions were associated with speech and more functional CFCS levels, while cortical/subcortical and basal ganglia lesions were associated with the absence of speech and less functional CFCS levels (p < 0.01).Communication function profiles in CP can be derived from the CFCS, which correlates to gross and fine motor and cognitive function. Good communication ability is associated with lesions acquired early, rather than late, in the third trimester.