Purpose: This study was designed to evaluate the use of the Berg Balance Scale (BBS) to assess the balance abilities of children with cerebral palsy.
Methods: Thirty-six ambulatory children with cerebral palsy and 14 children with no motor impairment (ages eight to 12 years) were assessed on the BBS and the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM). Participants with cerebral palsy comprised three groups based on diagnosis (spastic hemiplegia, spastic diplegia who ambulated without aids, and spastic diplegia who ambulated with aids). A fourth group consisted of control subjects with no motor impairment. It was hypothesized that these four groups demonstrated a hierarchy of balance abilities. A one-way ANOVA was used to detect significant differences in test scores among the four groups. The analysis was repeated categorizing children on the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) instead of diagnosis.
Results: The ability to use scores on the GMFM was slightly better than using BBS scores to distinguish among the groups when children were classified using diagnosis. Significant pair-wise differences among the groups were present on both the BBS and the GMFM when the children were grouped on the GMFCS.
Conclusions: The results suggest that the BBS can be considered as a clinical measure of balance for children with cerebral palsy, and a functional classification system can be used to group children more homogeneously than traditional classification by diagnosis.