Objective: Cerebral palsy (CP) is a motor disorder that causes physical disability in human development. Recent work has shown that somatosensory deficits are a serious problem for people with CP. There is however no information about the influence of age on brain correlates of tactile sensitivity.
Methods: Proprioception, touch and pain pressure thresholds, as well as somatosensory evoked potentials (SEP) elicited by tactile stimulation in lips and thumbs were examined in 15 children with CP (range 5-14y), 14 adults with CP (range 22-55y), 15 healthy children (range 5-14y), and 15 healthy adults (range 22-42y).
Results: Children with CP as compared to healthy controls showed more reduced sensitivity for non-painful stimuli, but enhanced sensitivity for painful stimuli. Early SEP amplitudes (P50 and P100) were more enhanced in children and adults with CP than in healthy participants. A functional hemispheric asymmetry was observed in CP when left- and right-side body parts were stimulated.
Conclusions: Data suggest the possibility that altered somatosensory brain processing in CP might be reflecting an enhanced excitability of the somatosensory cortex.
Significance: Assessment of somatosensory functions may have implications for future neuromodulatory treatment of pain complaints and motor rehabilitation programs in children and adults with cerebral palsy.
Copyright 2010 International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.