Preventive Care for Adults With Cerebral Palsy and Other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities: Are We Missing the Point?

Preventive care refers to disease prevention and is often performed by taking measurements to assess health and function. Preventive care is important for individuals with cerebral palsy to identify when health/function issues begin to arise. Most of the time, early detection of health or functional issues is good as it can prevent the issue from getting worse, or at least slow down the rate of decline of that health issue.

In this published Perspective article by Drs. Whitney, Hurvitz, Rabideau, and McKee, the authors discuss a very specific aspect of preventive care that has been overlooked: that is, how some preventive care measures may not be measuring what we think they are for people with cerebral palsy. Individuals with cerebral palsy have different anatomy and physiology compared to the general population. Commonly used preventive care measurements, like body mass index and bone density, were developed from the general population to measure health issues (e.g., obesity risk, bone health). These measurements make assumptions that allow us to use the values to better understand a person's health. However, these assumptions may not hold for people with cerebral palsy. Not being able to accurately capture health issues with preventive measurements can lead to missed opportunities for interventions, medication modifications, or other preventive goals. As discussed in the article, the authors explain what these assumptions are and why they may not work for people with cerebral palsy.

Future research is needed to identify how to better utilize currently available methods to assess for health constructs among adults with CP, or develop better methods