Characteristics of Dysphagia in Children with Cerebral Palsy, Related to Gross Motor Function

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The aim of this study was to report the characteristics of dysphagia in children with cerebral palsy (CP), related to gross motor function.


Videofluoroscopic swallow study was performed in 29 children with CP, according to the manual of Logemann. Five questions about oromotor dysfunction were answered. Gross motor function level was classified by the Gross Motor Function Classification System Expanded and Revised.


The results of the videofluoroscopic swallowing studies showed that reduced lip closure, inadequate bolus formation, residue in the oral cavity, delayed triggering of pharyngeal swallow, reduced larynx elevation, coating on the pharyngeal wall, delayed pharyngeal transit time, multiple swallow, and aspiration were significantly more common in the severe group (Gross Motor Function Classification System Expanded and Revised IV or V). As for aspiration, 50% of the children with severe CP had problems, but only 14.3% of them with moderate (Gross Motor Function Classification System Expanded and Revised III) CP and none of them with mild CP had abnormalities. In addition, five of the seven aspiration cases occurred silently.


This study shows that dysphagia is closely related to gross motor function in children with CP. Silent aspiration was observed in the moderate to severe CP groups. Aspiration is an important cause of medical problems such as acute and chronic lung disease, and associated respiratory complications contribute significantly in increasing morbidity and mortality in these patient groups. Therefore, the authors suggest that early dysphagia evaluation including videofluoroscopic swallow study is necessary in managing feeding problems and may prevent chronic aspiration, malnutrition, and infections.

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