Experienced problems of young adults with cerebral palsy: targets for rehabilitation care

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2009 Nov;90(11):1891-7. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2009.06.014.


Objective: To determine the problems experienced by young adults with cerebral palsy (CP) and the relationship between those problems and personal and CP-related characteristics.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Rehabilitation centers in the southwest Netherlands.

Participants: Young adults (N=87; aged 18-22y) with CP and normal intelligence (roughly corresponding to an intelligence quotient >70, excluding participants who attended schools for those with learning disabilities).

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: We used the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure in a semistructured interview to assess participants for experienced problems. We further categorized experienced problems according to the domains of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health and assessed the relationship between those problems and personal and CP-related characteristics (eg, age, sex, level of gross motor functioning, manual ability, level of education) using appropriate correlation coefficients.

Results: Approximately 70% of participants experienced problems in daily life, addressing the areas of self-care (59%), productivity (52%), and leisure activities (37%). More specifically, problems were most prevalent in recreation and leisure (30%), preparing meals (29%), housework (14%), and dressing (14%). Problems in functional mobility, paid or unpaid work, and socialization were considered as most important (represented by the highest mean importance score). Mobility problems were associated with lower levels of gross motor functioning (Spearman rho=.39), and problems with self-care were associated with lower levels of manual ability (Spearman rho=.40).

Conclusions: Although frequently addressed during pediatric rehabilitation care, problems with mobility and self-care still prevail in young adults with CP. In addition, during the transition into adulthood, young adults with CP may experience problems regarding domestic life and work, which they consider important.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adolescent
  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Self Care
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult