Open Access Open Badges Research article

Arm hand skilled performance in cerebral palsy: activity preferences and their movement components

Ryanne JM Lemmens1*, Yvonne JM Janssen-Potten2, Annick AA Timmermans3, Anke Defesche4, Rob JEM Smeets1 and Henk AM Seelen2

Author Affiliations

1 Research School CAPHRI, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

2 Adelante, Centre of Expertise in Rehabilitation and Audiology, Hoensbroek, The Netherlands

3 BIOMED Biomedical Research Institute, Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium

4 Adelante Rehabilitation Centre, Valkenburg, The Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neurology 2014, 14:52  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-14-52

Published: 19 March 2014



Assessment of arm-hand use is very important in children with cerebral palsy (CP) who encounter arm-hand problems. To determine validity and reliability of new instruments to assess actual performance, a set of standardized test situations including activities of daily living (ADL) is required. This study gives information with which such a set for upper extremity skill research may be fine-tuned, relative to a specific research question. Aim of this study is to a) identify upper extremity related ADL children with CP want to improve on, b) determine the 10 most preferred goals of children with CP, and c) identify movement components of all goals identified.


The Canadian Occupational Performance Measure was used to identify upper extremity-related ADL preferences (goals) of 53 children with CP encountering arm-hand problems (mean age 9 ± 4.5 year). Goals were ranked based on importance attributed to each goal and the number of times a goal was mentioned, resulting in a gross list with goals. Additionally, two studies were performed, i.e. study A to determine the 10 most preferred goals for 3 age groups (2.5-5 years; 6-11 years, 12-19 years), based on the total preference score, and study B to identify movement components, like reaching and grasping, of all goals identified for both the leading and the assisting arm-hand.


Seventy-two goals were identified. The 10 most preferred goals differed with age, changing from dressing and leisure-related goals in the youngest children to goals regarding personal care and eating for children aged 6-11 years. The oldest children preferred goals regarding eating, personal care and computer use. The movement components ‘positioning’, ‘reach’, ‘grasp’, and ‘hold’ were present in most tasks. ‘Manipulating’ was more important for the leading arm-hand, whereas ‘fixating’ was more important for the assisting arm-hand.


This study gave insight into the preferences regarding ADL children with CP would like to improve on, and the movement components characterizing these activities. This information can be used to create a set of standardized test situations, which can be used to assess the validity and reliability of new measurement instruments to gauge actual arm-hand skilled performance.

Cerebral Palsy; Children; Adolescents; Activities of daily living; Upper extremity; Treatment goals; Training preferences; Canadian Occupational Performance Measure; Movement components; Rehabilitation