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Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(17):1488-94. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2011.650314. Epub 2012 Feb 6.

Tactile function in children with unilateral cerebral palsy compared to typically developing children.

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  • 1Division of Physiotherapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.



Tactile deficits have been understudied in children with unilateral cerebral palsy (UCP) using a limited range of tactile assessments. This study aims to characterize performance across a comprehensive battery of tactile registration and perception assessments in children with UCP and typically developing children (TDC).


Fifty-two children with UCP (Gross Motor Function Classification System I = 34, II = 18; Manual Ability Classification System I = 36, II = 16) and 34 TDC were assessed using Semmes Weinstein Monofilaments (tactile registration), and single-point localization, double simultaneous, static and moving two-point discrimination, stereognosis, and texture perception (tactile perception).


Children with UCP performed consistently worse with their impaired hand than their unimpaired hand (Z = 2.77-5.61; p < 0.005). Both hands of children with UCP performed worse than either hand of TDC (Z = -2.08 to 5.23; p = 0.037-< 0.001). Forty percent of children with UCP had tactile registration and perception deficits, 37% had perception deficits only and 23% had no tactile deficit. The larger the tactile registration deficit, the poorer the performance on all tactile perceptual tests (r = 0.568-0.670; p < 0.001).


Most children with UCP demonstrate poor tactile perception and over one-third also demonstrate poor tactile registration. We contend that tactile dysfunction may contribute to functional impairment and is a possible target for intervention. [


• Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most prevalent physical disability in childhood, with an incidence of approximately 2 cases per 1000 live births; about 35% of children with CP have unilateral cerebral palsy (UCP).• Assessment and treatment has been focused on the motor impairment; however, it is known that children with UCP are also likely to have sensory impairment.• Understanding the nature and severity of sensory, specifically tactile, impairment in children with UCP will assist therapists to direct treatment accordingly and possibly impact the motor impairment.]

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