Aim: To examine the relationships between upper limb impairments and independence in self-care (ISC) in children with unilateral cerebral palsy (CP). Method: One hundred and eight children with unilateral CP (46 females, 62 males; mean age 8y 7mo, SD 3y 9mo) recruited from a population register were assessed for upper limb muscle power, spasticity, sensation, motor control, and process skills, and for ISC as the functional outcome using structural equation modelling. Results: The model showed good fit indices and explained 90% of the variance in ISC. Direct effects were significant between manual ability and ISC (β=0.47), and process skills and ISC (β=0.63). Sensation had a significant positive indirect effect on ISC through manual ability (β=0.24) and a positive but marginally non-significant indirect effect through process skills (β=0.21, bootstrapped 95% confidence interval −0.05 to 0.55). Spasticity had a significant negative indirect effect on ISC through its effect on manual ability (β=−0.21). Age had a significant positive indirect effect on ISC, as did intellect, through their effect on process skills (β=0.34 and 0.21 respectively). Interpretation: ISC is affected by upper limb impairments and process skill. Sensation influences ISC through its effects on manual and process skill abilities. Both sensation and process skills require further evaluation to assist ISC in children with unilateral CP. What this paper adds: Process skills and manual ability most strongly positively influence independence in self-care (ISC) in children with unilateral cerebral palsy. Sensation influences ISC through manual ability and process skill.
- cerebral palsy
- life skills