Objectives: To study the relationships between motor type, topographical distribution and gross motor function in a large, population-based cohort of children with cerebral palsy (CP), from the State of Victoria, and compare this cohort to similar cohorts from other countries.
Methods: An inception cohort was generated from the Victorian Cerebral Palsy Register (VCPR) for the birth years 1990-1992. Demographic information, motor types and topographical distribution were obtained from the register and supplemented by grading gross motor function according to the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS).
Results: Complete data were obtained on 323 (86%) of 374 children in the cohort. Gross motor function varied from GMFCS level I (35%) to GMFCS level V (18%) and was similar in distribution to a contemporaneous Swedish cohort. There was a fairly even distribution across the topographical distributions of hemiplegia (35%), diplegia (28%) and quadriplegia (37%) with a large majority of young people having the spastic motor type (86%).
Conclusions: The VCPR is ideal for population-based studies of gross motor function in children with CP. Gross motor function is similar in populations of children with CP in developed countries but the comparison of motor types and topographical distribution is difficult because of lack of consensus with classification systems. Use of the GMFCS provides a valid and reproducible method for clinicians to describe gross motor function in children with CP using a universal language.