Objective: To compare the efficacy of selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) and orthopedic surgery using multidimensional (National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research disablement framework) outcome measures.
Design: Prospective outcome study.
Setting: Pediatric orthopedic hospital.
Participants: Twenty-five children with spastic diplegia. Eighteen participants (mean age, 71.3 mo) chose SDR. Seven participants (mean age, 78.6 mo) chose orthopedic surgery.
Interventions: Children were evaluated 2 days before surgical intervention and at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years postsurgically.
Main outcome measures: The Gross Motor Performance Measure, the Gross Motor Function Measure, and the Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory.
Results: The SDR group improved significantly in quality of movement attributes 6 months postsurgically; however, gross motor skills (standing; walking, running, and jumping) gains were seen 2 years postsurgically. The orthopedic group improved significantly in select quality of movement attributes 6 months postsurgically and in standing skills within the first postsurgical year. Self-care skills, mobility, and social function gains were seen earlier and with greater frequency in the SDR group.
Conclusions: Both surgical interventions demonstrated multidimensional benefits for ambulatory children with spastic diplegia. The results suggest that qualitative changes in movement, achieved by spasticity reduction, have a greater effect on the enhancement of functional skill proficiency, thus independence, than recognized.