Stability of the Gross Motor Function Classification System in Children and Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy: A retrospective cohort registry study

Cerebral Palsy (CP) can be described as a permanent condition caused by damage to the brain either in utero or during early childhood. CP affects movement, posture, and muscle tone. Increased muscle tone causes muscles to become more stiff, and in turn, makes it more difficult for a person to control their movements. CP manifests itself differently across individuals, the development of gross motor function (such as sitting, standing, walking, etc.) may result in activity limitations.

The Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) provides a classification system which highlights what gross motor functions can be expected of a certain individual. This allows individuals with cerebral palsy to better understand their functional capability and dedicate their time towards attainable goals.

In 2007, the GMFCS Expanded & Revised extended the age range to include 12 to 18 year olds. In this study, results from a population of children and adolescents with CP in Sweden confirm the stability of GMFCS throughout a person’s lifetime. The study also revealed that those with GMFCS levels II and III were more likely to have a downward change, or see an increase in their gross motor function, while those with unilateral spastic CP had the lowest probability of upward change (lower performance).

"A high level of absolute agreement (96.8%) between the original and updated versions of the GMFCS has been shown. Overall, the evidence supports that GMFCS levels remain stable over time"