Tactile sensory abilities in cerebral palsy: deficits in roughness and object discrimination

Wingert JR, Burton H, Sinclair RJ, Brunstrom JE, Damiano DL (2008). Dev Med Child Neurol, 50(11):832-8
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Motor deficits in cerebral palsy (CP) have been well documented; however, associated sensory impairment in CP remains poorly understood. We examined tactile object recognition in the hands using geometric shapes, common objects, and capital letters. Discrimination of tactile roughness was tested using paired horizontal gratings of varied groove widths passively translated across the index finger. We tested 17 individuals with hemiplegia (mean 13y 9mo [SD 5y 2mo]; 6 males, 11 females), 21 with diplegia (mean 14y 10mo [SD 7y]; 10 males, 11 females), and 21 without disabilities (mean 14y 10mo [SD 5y 1mo]; 11 males, 10 females). All participants with CP fell within level I or II of the Gross Motor Function Classification System and level I or II of the Manual Abilities Classification System. Individuals with CP were significantly less accurate compared with those without disabilities on all tactile object-recognition tasks using their non-dominant hand. Both groups of patients also had significantly higher thresholds for groove-width differences with both hands compared with those without disabilities. Within the group with diplegia, only roughness discrimination differed between hands, whereas within the group with hemiplegia, significant between-limb differences were present for all tasks. Despite mild motor deficits compared with the entire population of individuals with CP, this sample demonstrated ubiquitous tactile deficits.

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Posted on October 14, 2008
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