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The Prevalence, Distribution, and Effect of Pain Among Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy

Doralp, Samantha MSc; Bartlett, Doreen J. PT, PhD

Pediatric Physical Therapy: April 2010 - Volume 22 - Issue 1 - p 26-33
doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e3181ccbabb
Research Report

Purpose: To describe the prevalence, distribution, and intensity of pain and determine the relationship between pain intensity and effect on daily activities in adolescents with cerebral palsy.

Methods: A sample of 104 girls and 126 boys, mean ages 14.7 (SD = 1.7) and 14.8 (SD = 1.7) years, were asked “Have you experienced physical pain in the past month?”

Results: Sixty-four percent of girls and 50% of boys reported pain. Pain was most frequent in the feet and ankles, knees, and lower back of girls and boys at Gross Motor Function Classification System levels I to IV. Foot and ankle and knee pain were also frequent at level V. The Spearman rho value between intensity and effect on daily activities was 0.75 (p < 0.01) and 0.82 (p < 0.01) for girls and boys.

Conclusions: The high prevalence of pain and its effect on daily activities suggests a need for greater focus on health promotion.

The results of this study reveal a high prevalence of pain in the lower limbs and back among adolescents with cerebral palsy. The relationship between the intensity of pain and its effect on daily function warrants attention by therapists treating adolescents with cerebral palsy. SUPPLEMENTAL DIGITAL CONTENT IS AVAILABLE IN THE TEXT.

Faculty of Health Sciences (S.D.) and School of Physical Therapy (D.J.B.), The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada; and CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research (D.J.B.), McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Address Correspondence to: Doreen Bartlett, School of Physical Therapy, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6G 1H1;

Grant Support: The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR MOP-53258)

Samantha Doralp was a PhD Candidate in the Rehabilitation Sciences Program in the Faculty of Health Sciences at The University of Western Ontario at the time this study was completed.

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© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.