Motor function predicts parent-reported musculoskeletal pain in children with cerebral palsy

Chantel C. Barney, Linda E. Krach, Patrick F. Rivard, John L. Belew, Frank J. Symons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The relationship between pain and motor function is not well understood, especially for children and adolescents with communication and motor impairments associated with cerebral palsy (CP). OBJECTIVES: To determine whether a predictive relationship between motor function and musculoskeletal pain exists in children with CP. Methods: Following informed consent, caregivers of 34 pediatric patients with CP (mean [± SD] age 9.37±4.49 years; 80.0% male) completed pain- and function-related measures. Parents completed the Dalhousie Pain Interview and the Brief Pain Inventory based on a oneweek recall to determine whether pain had been experienced in the past week, its general description, possible cause, duration, frequency, intensity and interference with daily function. The Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) was used to classify the motor involvement of the child based on their functional ability and their need for assistive devices for mobility. RESULTS: GMFCS level significantly predicted parent-reported musculoskeletal pain frequency (P<0.02), duration (P=0.05) and intensity (P<0.01). Duration of pain was significantly related to interference with activities of daily living (P<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Children with CP with greater motor involvement, as indexed by GMFCS level, may be at risk for increased pain (intensity, frequency and duration) that interfers with activities of daily living. The clinical index of suspicion should be raised accordingly when evaluating children with developmental disability who cannot self-report reliably.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-327
Number of pages5
JournalPain Research and Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental disability
  • Motor function
  • Pain


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