Lung vital capacity and oxygen saturation in adults with cerebral palsy

Patient Prefer Adherence. 2014 Dec 9:8:1691-7. doi: 10.2147/PPA.S72575. eCollection 2014.


Background: Individuals with infantile cerebral palsy have multiple disabilities. The most conspicuous syndrome being investigated from many aspects is motor movement disorder with a spastic gait pattern. The lung function of adults with spasticity attracts less attention in the literature. This is surprising because decreased thoracic mobility and longstanding scoliosis should have an impact on lung function. With increasing age and the level of disability, individuals become susceptible to lung infections and reflux illness, and these are accompanied by increased aspiration risk. This study examined, with different methods, to what extent adults with congenital cerebral palsy and acquired spastic paresis - following traumatic brain injury - showed restriction of lung function. It also assessed the contribution of disability level on this restriction.

Methods: The oxygen saturation of 46 adults with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy was measured with an oximeter. Lung vital capacity was measured with a mobile spirometer and excursion of the thorax was clinically registered. The gross motor function levels and the presence or absence of scoliosis were determined.

Results: A significantly positive correlation between lung vital capacity and chest expansion was established. Both the lung vital capacity and the thorax excursion decreased with increases in gross motor function level. Oxygen saturation remained within the normal range in all persons, in spite of reduced values of the measured lung parameters. No statistically significant dependency between lung vital capacity and oxygen saturation, and between chest expansion and oxygen saturation was found. The scoliotic deformities of the spine were associated with an additional decrease in the vital capacity, but this did not affect blood oxygen supply.

Conclusion: Despite the decreased chest expansion and the significantly reduced lung volume in adults with cerebral palsy, sufficient oxygen supply was registered.

Keywords: chest expansion; disability; lung function; pulse oximetry; spirometry.