Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate an interdisciplinary visual assessment for multiply challenged children diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP).
Method: A comprehensive ophthalmological assessment together with a visual classification scale (VCS) and a questionnaire evaluating daily visual function were completed regarding 77 children (41 females, 36 males; age range 3-20y; mean age 8 y 3 mo [SD 4 y 3 mo]; Gross Motor Function Classification System [GMFCS] level V; Manual Ability Classification System level V) who were diagnosed with CP (79.2% spastic quadriplegia, 6.5% athetoid quadriplegia, 10.4% mixed type, 3.9% hemiplegia). All participants had severe to profound motor and intellectual disability and an inability to communicate consistently through either verbal or assisted communication. The interrater and test-retest reliability of the questionnaire and its validity in comparison with the VCS were examined. In addition, the contribution of ophthalmological testing in predicting daily visual function was assessed.
Results: The ophthalmological examination revealed three diagnostic subgroups: a group with cerebral visual impairment (CVI), a group with optic atrophy, and a group without visual impairment. The questionnaire was found to have high values of interrater reliability (interclass correlation coefficient [ICC]=0.873; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.762-0.935) and test-retest reliability (ICC=0.988; 95% CI 0.964-0.996). Validity was established for the questionnaire factors: task-orientated visual function (r=0.802; 95% CI 0.669-0.885) and basic visual skills (r=0.691; 95% CI 0.504-0.816). The questionnaire provided information about daily visual performance not available from one-time ophthalmological testing, particularly for participants diagnosed with CVI. The visual performance scale significantly predicted daily visual function for all groups.
Interpretation: This study highlights the benefits of implementing a diagnostic performance scale as well as a reliable functional questionnaire to achieve a precise visual assessment of children with severe neurological impairment.
© The Authors. Journal compilation © Mac Keith Press 2011.