Nelleke G. Langerak, Elsabe Britz, Stewart Dix-Peek, Jacques du Toit, A. Graham Fieggen, Robert P. Lamberts

June 2020, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 1416 - 1423 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-019-06235-3

First Online: 03 December 2019

Incidence of spinal deformities and the relationship with physical status and back pain in ambulant adults with cerebral palsy and spastic diplegia


The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of spinal deformities in ambulant adults with cerebral palsy (CP) and spastic diplegia, more than 15 years after orthopaedic interval surgery approach (ISA) treatment, and its relationship to contextual factors, level of pain and physical status.


Spinal X-rays, pain (Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and location/frequency) questionnaires and physical examination assessing lower extremity muscle strength (Medical Research Council scale), motor control (selectivity scale) and muscle tone (Ashworth score) were conducted in 30 adults with spastic diplegic CP.


Mild scoliosis (curve 12–22°) was determined in eight (28%) participants. Hyperkyphosis (> 50°) was reported in two (7%) and lumbar hyperlordosis (> 60°) in five (17%) participants. Pain was most commonly reported at cervical (n = 19, 63%) and lumbosacral (n = 18, 60%) area, resulting in ‘moderate disability’ for six (20%) and ‘severe disability’ for one (3%) participant. Most apparent physical abnormalities determined were hip abduction weakness and increased rectus femoris muscle tone. Regarding correlations, no relations were found for scoliosis curvature, but kyphosis curvature was related to females, ODI scores (lifting and sitting) and increased muscle tone of ankle plantar flexor muscles, lordosis curvature to passive hip extension mobility, and hip flexors and ankle plantar flexors muscle tone.


Adults with spastic diplegic CP who received their first orthopaedic intervention more than 15 years ago (based on ISA) showed similar incidence of spinal deformities as reported in the younger CP population, suggesting stability of spinal curvature into adulthood.

Graphic abstract

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