The health status of women with cerebral palsy

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1997 Dec;78(12 Suppl 5):S10-7. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(97)90216-1.


Objective: To determine preliminary associations between collected health status variables of women with cerebral palsy (CP) residing in the community.

Design: Cross-sectional study using survey research.

Participants: Sixty-three women residing in the community were administered the Telephone Questionnaire when contacted to arrange their visit to the study site located within the medical clinic of a local developmental services office. During the course of their visit to the study site, all 63 women completed the CP Study Protocol, in addition to the Mail-in Questionnaire upon completion of study participation. The women ranged in age from 20 to 74 years.

Main outcome measures: Health status, consisting of four elements: (1) self-reported health status; (2) associated conditions; (3) secondary conditions; and (4) health behaviors (alcohol and tobacco use, physical activity, diet, and health care visit).

Results: Women with CP residing in community living arrangements perceived themselves as healthy. The majority of women did not smoke (98%), had not consumed alcohol in the previous month (95%), and ate a balanced diet (52%). Participants also reported engaging in common physical activities (83%) and stretching and doing range-of-motion exercises in the previous week (43%), and participation in aerobic exercise in the previous week (43%). Sixty-eight percent (41 of 60) of the women walked, and more than 50% of the women did not require assistance with activities of daily living. The ability to walk and the use of a wheelchair were associated with participation in the common physical activities. The women reported associated conditions of mental retardation (34%), learning disabilities (26%), and a seizure history (40%). Additionally, the women in the sample reported the occurrence of several secondary conditions common among individuals with CP, including pain (84%), hip and back deformities (59%), bowel problems (56%), bladder problems (49%), poor dental health (43%), and gastroesophageal reflux (28%). Poor dental health was associated with a history of seizures, and associations were also found between pain and mental retardation, and between gastroesophageal reflux and mental retardation.

Conclusions: Women with CP residing in the community perceived themselves as healthy, and the observed health status measures (eg, self-reported health, associated conditions, secondary conditions, and selected health behaviors) support this concept. For the most part, independent relationships were found between several of these measures indicating no significant association among the variables. Where associations were found, however, such as between walking and participation in physical activity, further investigation is warranted for a better understanding of their ramifications in the design of health promotion activities for women with CP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Cerebral Palsy* / complications
  • Cerebral Palsy* / rehabilitation
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged