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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2003 Feb;45(2):85-91.

Hand function in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy: prospective follow-up and functional outcome in adolescence.

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Developmental Neurology Division, Neurological Institute C Besta, Milano, Italy.

Erratum in

  • Dev Med Child Neurol. 2003 Mar;45(3):206..


The aim of this prospective study was to determine the outcome of affected hand impairment and disability in a group of 31 children (16 males, 15 females) with hemiplegic cerebral palsy who were referred consecutively to our rehabilitation service and followed from a mean age of 2 years and 7 months to a mean age of 12 years and 9 months. The hand function assessment protocol consisted of video-recorded procedures: one to assess grip and the other to assess the extent of spontaneous use of the affected hand. Assessments at outset and at latest follow-up showed that the series as a whole had greater hand impairment in spontaneous manipulation than in gripping tasks. Comparison of hand function before age 4 years with the latest assessment over age 11 years revealed a non-significant improvement in grip, whereas spontaneous hand use remained stable. All but one of the children who had good grip and hand use scores at first assessment maintained them over time unless they were not treated for hand dysfunction. Among the children with low scores at outset, the improvement over time was more marked in grip than spontaneous hand use and occurred mainly in the early years. These results suggest that to evaluate the real disability of the affected hand in children with hemiplegia, grip assessment is insufficient and that an instrument assessing spontaneous hand use in bilateral manipulation is required. Furthermore, intensive treatment focused on hand function should be planned in the early years for children with more severe hand impairment, whereas regular follow-up is sufficient for less affected children.

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