Self-Feeding Kinematics in an Ecological Setting: Typically Developing Children and Children With Cerebral Palsy

IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2021;29:1462-1469. doi: 10.1109/TNSRE.2021.3098056. Epub 2021 Jul 28.


Assessment of self-feeding kinematics is seldom performed in an ecological setting. In preparation for development of an instrumented spoon for measurement of self-feeding in children with cerebral palsy (CP), the current work aimed to evaluate upper extremity kinematics of self-feeding in young children with typical development (TD) and a small, age-matched group of children with CP in a familiar setting, while eating with a spoon.

Methods: Sixty-five TD participants and six children diagnosed with spastic CP, aged 3-9 years, fed themselves while feeding was measured using miniature three-dimensional motion capture sensors (trakStar). Kinematic variables associated with different phases of self-feeding cycle (movement time, curvature, time to peak velocity and smoothness) were compared across age-groups in the TD sample and between TD children and those with CP.

Results: Significant between-age group differences were identified in movement times, time to peak velocity and curvature. Children with CP demonstrated slower, less smooth self-feeding movements, potentially related to activity limitations.

Conclusions: The identified kinematic variables form a basis for implementation of self-feeding performance assessment in children of different ages, including those with CP, which can be deployed via an instrumented spoon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cerebral Palsy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Motion
  • Movement
  • Upper Extremity