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Pediatric Physical Therapy:
Section Information: Abstracts of Poster and Platform Presentations for the 2004 Combined Sections Meeting: Platform Presentations

COMPARISON OF THE GROSS MOTOR FUNCTION MEASURE (GMFM) AND THE SCHOOL FUNCTION ASSESSMENT (SFA) IN EVALUATING SCHOOL FUNCTION FOR CHILDREN WITH CEREBRAL PALSY.

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C. Footer, X. Babayan, J. Fuentes, D. Pfister, K. Prowell, K. Whiting, B. Tschoepe, Physical Therapy, Regis University, Denver, CO.

PURPOSE/HYPOTHESIS: Physical therapists specializing in school-based practice are faced with the challenge of creating meaningful and appropriate Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) goals for children diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP). The selection of appropriate assessment tools to accurately delineate abilities and limitations within the educational environment is critical in the goal-setting process. The Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) was specifically designed to assess the motor abilities of children with CP. Although school-based therapists frequently use the GMFM, it was not expressly designed for the natural environment of a school setting. In contrast, the School Function Assessment (SFA) was developed to evaluate functional abilities of children with disabilities within the educational environment, which should facilitate the development of the IEP. Unfortunately, there is a lack of evidence related to the applicability of the SFA to children with CP. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the correlation between the GMFM and SFA. NUMBER OF SUBJECTS: Twenty children with CP ages 5–11.

MATERIALS/METHODS: Participants were classified and tested at their respective schools using the Gross Motor Function Classification Scale, GMFM-66, and SFA. The Gross Motor Ability Estimator (GMAE) computer program was used to calculate the GMFM-66 scores for comparison to the SFA.

RESULTS: Significant (P = 0.01) correlations were demonstrated between the GMFM-66 and the following SFA dimensions: Total score (r = 0.86), Task Supports (r = 0.83), and Activity Performance for all physical (r = 0.71–0.91) and cognitive (r = 0.67–0.83) tasks.

CONCLUSIONS: Strong correlations were revealed between the GMFM-66 and the physical task dimensions of the SFA. Additionally, significant, but not as strong, correlations were found between the GMFM-66 and cognitive components of the SFA. Thus, the findings of this study support the use of the SFA in children with CP as a means to evaluate their functional abilities within the educational environment.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The ability of school-based therapists to accurately assess children with CP in their natural environment is critical for the development of suitable IEP’s. The SFA was designed specifically to aid in the establishment of an appropriate IEP. The decision to use the SFA for children with CP in the educational environment was supported by this study.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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