Perspective: cerebral palsy as a model of bone development in the absence of postnatal mechanical factors

J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. Apr-Jun 2006;6(2):154-9.


To ensure optimal skeletal development, mechanical loading is imperative. The consequences of the removal of, or complete absence of, mechanical loading are illustrated by the clinical condition of cerebral palsy (CP). Clinical and radiological evaluation of children with CP provides an insight into how the growing skeleton develops when mechanical loading is reduced due to non-physiological muscle function. The poor bone status or "physiologic osteopenia" that these children suffer is multifactorial compromised of both mechanical and non-mechanical effects; primarily it is the lack of normal loading from the musculature which causes the development of a bone incapable of withstanding daily activities. Fractures occur during daily activities such as dressing and handling. Increased bone resorption during periods of immobilisation after fracture or surgery, also increases bone fragility. Trials of physical, nutritional and pharmacological treatments in CP children result in increased bone mineral density. Trials that include fracture prevention as the primary end point are required in this vulnerable group of children.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Development / physiology*
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Cerebral Palsy / complications
  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Models, Biological*
  • Stress, Mechanical