Upper extremity surgical treatment of cerebral palsy

Ann E. Van Heest, James H. House, Carol Cariello

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109 Scopus citations


The purpose of this report is to review the surgical treatment of the upper extremity involved with cerebral palsy over a 25-year period and present our results with regard to changes in upper limb function. Surgical results were assessed by comparison of preoperative and postoperative levels of upper extremity functional use using a previously described 9-level scale. The effect of the following cofactors on surgical outcome were examined: type of cerebral palsy, age, voluntary control, mental impairment, sensibility, and type of surgical treatment. One hundred eighty operations representing 718 procedures in 134 patients were reviewed. Surgical treatment was based on the following principles: soft tissue releases of deforming spastic muscles, tendon transfers to augment antagonistic activity, and joint stabilization. Surgical planning was tailored to each child's particular needs. Comparison of the preoperative and postoperative 9-level functional use scores showed an average improvement of 2.6 functional levels for all patients. Patients with fair and good voluntary control had significantly greater improvement in functional use scores than those with poor voluntary control. No other statistically significant predictive cofactor was found. In selected patients with upper extremity dysfunction secondary to spastic cerebral palsy, surgical intervention improves function, as measured by the upper extremity functional use scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-330
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1999

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  • Cerebral palsy
  • Surgical treatment


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