A prospective evaluation of the WeeFIM in patients with cerebral palsy undergoing orthopaedic surgery

James O. Sanders, Sharon L. McConnell, Ron King, Alice Lanford, Kathleen Montpetit, Philip Gates, Margaret M. Rich, Karin Shepherd, Tim Cupp, Richard Haynes, Patricia Bush, Fares Tahir, Julius Santiago, Donald E. Lighter, Cathy Smrcina, Mark L. Niederpruem, Craig M McDonald, Darryl B. Curry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Although frequently used in pediatric rehabilitation settings, the WeeFIM has not been tested in surgical pediatric orthopaedic patients. METHODS: The WeeFIM was administered to patients with surgical cerebral palsy at defined intervals preoperatively and at both 6 and 12 months postoperatively. The age-adjusted change scores from baseline to follow-up were tested both parametrically and nonparametrically. RESULTS: Four hundred sixty-eight patients had baseline evaluations. There were 161 six-month follow-up assessments and 108 twelve-month follow-up assessments. The baseline WeeFIM was able to separate children with different patterns of cerebral palsy. Hemiplegic patients had higher scores than diplegic and tetraplegic patients. Overall age-adjusted scores were improved at both 6 (mean increase 2.0) and 12 months (mean increase 2.2). The instrument showed significant ceiling effects for diplegic and hemiplegic patients with lower or upper extremity surgery and limited responsiveness for lower extremity surgery in tetraplegic patients. Parametrically, it showed improvements in mobility for both rhizotomy and tetraplegic upper extremity surgery. Nonparametric tests were not significant for rhizotomy mobility improvement. CONCLUSIONS: Although the WeeFIM adequately reflects the severity of neurological involvement in pediatric orthopaedic patients with cerebral palsy, it has a significant ceiling effect in diplegic and hemiplegic patients limiting responsiveness and lacks content validity for tetraplegic patients. The instrument may have some use in tetraplegic patients with upper extremity surgery and in rhizotomy patients. We recommend against its general use for orthopaedic surgery in patients with cerebral palsy lower extremity or spine surgery and in hemiplegic patients with upper extremity surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)542-546
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Functional outcomes
  • Surgery
  • WeeFIM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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