Correlation between Standard Upper Extremity Impairment Measures and Activity-based Function Testing in Upper Extremity Cerebral Palsy

Michelle James, Anita Bagley, James B. Vogler, Jon Davids, Ann E. Van Heest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Although the treatment of cerebral palsy should be based on improving function as assessed by measures of impairment, activity, and participation, the standard indications for surgical treatment of upper extremity cerebral palsy (UECP) are impairment measures, primarily active and passive range of motion (ROM). Recently, validated activity measures have been developed for children with UECP. The purposes of this study were to determine the relationship between impairment and activity measures in this population, and whether measures of activity correlate with each other. Methods: A total of 37 children, ages 5 to 16 years, who met standard ROM surgical indications for UECP were evaluated with the impairment measures of active and passive ROM and stereognosis, as well as 3 activity measures [Assisting Hand Assessment (AHA), Box and Blocks test, and the Shriners Hospitals Upper Extremity Evaluation Dynamic Positional Analyses (SHUEE DPA)]. Impairment measures were correlated with activity measures using Spearman rank correlation coefficients. Results: Impairment measures showed inconsistent correlation with activity measures. Of the 12 comparisons, only 4 correlated: active forearm supination (ρ=0.47, P=0.003), wrist extension (ρ=0.55, P=0.001), and stereognosis scores (ρ=0.54, P=0.001) were correlated with AHA; and wrist extension was correlated with the SHUEE DPA (ρ=0.41, P=0.01). When the results of activity tests were compared, the AHA was correlated with the Box and Blocks tests (ρ=0.63, P<0.001), and the SHUEE DPA and Box and Blocks tests were correlated with each other (ρ=0.35, P=0.04). Conclusions: The goal of surgery in UECP is to improve the child's ability to perform activities, and ultimately to participate in life situations. Impairment measures, such as ROM, were inconsistently correlated with validated measures of activity. Some activity measures correlated with each other, although they did not correlate with the same impairment measures. We conclude that impairment measures, including ROM, do not consistently predict functional dynamic ROM used to perform activities for children with UECP. Activity limitation measures may provide more appropriate indicators than impairment measures for upper extremity surgery for this population. Level of Evidence: Level II - diagnostic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e102-e106
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • activity
  • function
  • impairment
  • surgical indications
  • upper extremity cerebral palsy
  • World Health Organization International Classification of Functioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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