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Neural Plasticity
Volume 12, Issue 2-3, Pages 197-203

Postural Muscle Dyscoordination in Children With Cerebral Palsy

1Department of Neurology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
2Univ. of Groningen Medical Centre, Developmental Neurology, Hanzeplein 1, Groningen 9713 GZ, The Netherlands

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The present paper gives an overview of the knowledge currently available on muscular dyscoordination underlying postural problems in children with cerebral palsy (CP). Such information is a prerequisite for developing successful therapeutic interventions in children with CP. Until now, three children with CP functioning at GMFCS (Gross Motor Function Classification System) level V have been documented. The children totally or partially lacked direction specificity in their postural adjustments and could not sit independently for more than 3 seconds. Some children functioning at GMFCS level IV have intact direction-specific adjustments, whereas others have problems in generating consistently direction-specific adjustments. Children at GMFCS levels I to III have an intact basic level of control but have difficulties in fine-tuning the degree of postural muscle contraction to the task-specific conditions, a dysfunction more prominently present in children with bilateral spastic CP than in children with spastic hemiplegia. The problems in the adaptation of the degree of muscle contraction might be the reason that children with CP, more often than typically developing children, show an excess of antagonistic coactivation during difficult balancing tasks and a preference for cranial-caudal recruitment during reaching. This might imply that both stereotypies might be regarded as functional strategies to compensate for the dysfunctional capacity to modulate subtly postural activity.