Purpose: This study aimed to examine motor performance and somatosensory processing of unilateral cerebral palsy (UCP) children in both the less-affected hand and the more-affected hand. This study is also aimed at analysing the somatosensory proccessing in the more-affected hand in relation to age and damaged hemisphere.
Materials and methods: Forty-seven children aged from 6 to 15 years (UCP = 23; TD = 24) were recruited. Grip strength, pinch strength, Box and Block Test and Jebsen Taylor Hand Function Test were used to analyse motor performance. A comprehensive somatosensory assessment battery was included: tactile registration, unilateral, bilateral and spatio-temporal perception, haptic recognition, texture perception, proprioception, pressure pain threshold and functional sensitivity.
Results: UCP children exhibited lower performance in all aspects of motor performance measured in both the less-affected hand and the more-affected hand, except grip strength in the less-affected hand. Significant differences were found for all tests included in the somatosensory assessment in both the less-affected hand and the more-affected hand, except unilateral perception tests in the less-affected hand.
Conclusions: UCP children present difficulties in motor performance and somatosensory processing not only in the more-affected hand, but also in the less-affected hand. Somatosensation may be a critical driver of functional performance.Implications for rehabilitationThe less-affected hand of children with unilateral cerebral palsy should be included in both assessment and intervention programmes.Somatosensory processing should be assessed through a comprehensive battery, both in the less-affected hand and in the more-affected hand of unilateral cerebral palsy children.Somatosensory treatment must be taken into account if functional performance in the activities of daily living of unilateral cerebral palsy children is to be improved.
Keywords: less-affected hand; more-affected hand; motor performance; somatosensation; somatosensory assessment; somatosensory processing; unilateral cerebral palsy.