Cognitive functioning in children with cerebral palsy

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2020 Mar;62(3):283-289. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.14463. Epub 2020 Jan 9.


Children with cerebral palsy (CP) have an increased risk of cognitive impairments. This narrative review of the literature discusses assessment of cognition in children with CP, presents the most salient characteristics of cognitive functioning pertaining to each subtype, and discusses the relationships between brain injury, functioning, and intervention from a developmental perspective. A search for original studies of cognitive functioning in children with different subtypes of CP was performed. The search resulted in 81 unique hits. There were few studies with a representative sample of children with CP where all participants were individually assessed. Cognitive functioning in children with the most severe motor impairments were often assumed and not assessed. Furthermore, there was a confounding of IQ below 70 and intellectual disability, possibly leading to an overestimation of the prevalence of intellectual disability. Longitudinal neuropsychological studies, including also very young children and those with the most severe speech and motor impairments, as well as intervention studies, are called for. WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS: Few studies have assessed cognition in a representative sample of children with cerebral palsy. Cognition in children with severe motor impairment is often assumed, not assessed. Lack of assessment may lead to overestimating the prevalence of intellectual disability. Lowered cognitive functioning in older children highlights the need for longitudinal studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / complications
  • Cerebral Palsy / psychology*
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / complications
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / complications
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology
  • Neuropsychological Tests