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n South African Medical Journal - Aspects of birth history and outcome in diplegics attending specialised educational facilities : research
Aim. We aimed to study functional mobility and visual performance in spastic diplegic children and adolescents attending specialised schools.
Methods. Spastic diplegia (SD) was confirmed by clinical examination. Birth and related history were added to explore relationships between SD, birth weight (BW) and duration of pregnancy. Place of birth, BW, gestational age (GA) and length of hospital stay were obtained by means of parental recall. Outcome measures included the functional mobility scale (FMS) and Beery tests of visuomotor integration (VMI) and visual perception (VIS).
Results. Forty participants were included (age 7 years 5 months - 19 years 6 months). Term and preterm births were almost equally represented. Functional mobility assessments showed that 20 were walking independently in school and community settings and the remainder used walking aids or wheelchairs. There were no significant correlations between BW or GA and outcomes (FMS, VIS-z-scores or VMI-z-scores) and z-scores were low. VIS scores correlated significantly with chronological age (p=0.024). There were also significant correlations between VIS and VMI scores and school grade appropriateness (p=0.004; p=0.027, respectively).
Interpretation. Both term and preterm births were represented, and outcomes were similar regardless of GA. VIS and VMI were affected in both groups. Half of the group used assistive mobility devices and three-quarters were delayed in terms of their educational level. These problems require specialised teaching strategies, appropriate resources and a school environment that caters for mobility limitations.
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