Gross Motor Function Classification System: impact and utility

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2004 Jan;46(1):60-5. doi: 10.1017/s0012162204000118.


In summary, the GMFCS has had, and continues to have, a major effect on the health care of children with CP. The number of citations of the GMFCS has been increasing every year, and the classification system has had good uptake internationally and across the spectrum of health professionals for use in research design and clinical practice by providing a system for clearly communicating about children's gross motor function. The utility of diagnostic labels such as diplegia has been questioned. However, although by definition CP is a disorder of posture and movement, the movement disability is often only one of the neurodevelopmental problems for many children with CP. When a complete description of a child's clinical presentation is required we recommend that the GMFCS be used together with the Surveillance of Cerebral Palsy in Europe classification indicating the type and topography of movement impairment. When appropriate the clinical profile will similarly be enhanced with details of other impairments and disabilities such as epilepsy or sensory, learning, feeding, or emotional disturbance. The observations in this annotation are constrained by the amount of information in the public domain. Although these sources adequately represent the effect of the GMFCS on research design, they are less likely to inform us of how the GMFCS is being used in administration, clinical practice, or education. It is not yet clear whether information is being used for these purposes or in assisting with case load management, as intended by the developers. By its localized nature, such information might remain difficult to gauge. We would therefore be interested to hear from others who are using the system for these or any other purposes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / classification
  • Cerebral Palsy / complications*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Motor Skills / classification*
  • Motor Skills Disorders / classification*
  • Reference Values
  • Severity of Illness Index