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Open Access Research

Health-related quality of life of ambulant adults with cerebral palsy and its association with falls and mobility decline: a preliminary cross sectional study

Prue E Morgan1*, Sze-Ee Soh12 and Jennifer L McGinley3

Author Affiliations

1 Physiotherapy Department, School of Primary Health Care, Monash University, Frankston, Victoria, Australia

2 Physiotherapy Department, Caulfield Hospital, Caulfield, Australia

3 School of Physiotherapy, Melbourne School of Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2014, 12:132  doi:10.1186/s12955-014-0132-1

Published: 30 August 2014



Despite an increasing number of studies examining the profile of falls and mobility decline in adults with cerebral palsy (CP), little is known about its impact on an individual’s life quality. The aim of this preliminary study was to assess the wellbeing and health status aspects of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in ambulant adults with CP and explore the relationship of falls and mobility decline with HRQOL.


Ambulant adults with CP completed postal surveys which sought demographic data, mobility (Gross Motor Function Classification System; GMFCS-E&R), presence of mobility decline, falls history, and HRQOL (Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI), Short Form-36 Health Survey (SF-36)).


Thirty-four community-dwelling ambulant adults with CP with a mean age of 44.2 years (SD; 8.6; range 26–65) participated. Twenty-eight (82%) participants reported mobility decline since reaching adulthood, and a similar proportion of individuals (82%) reported having had more than two falls in the previous year. The health status and wellbeing of this sample of ambulant adults with CP were generally lower compared with the Australian normative population. Mobility decline was found by univariate regression analysis to be associated with mental health status (β = 0.52; p = 0.002), but not when other predictor variables were included in the multivariate model (β = 0.27; p = 0.072). In contrast, self-reported history of falls was found to be a significant contributing factor for both physical health status (β = −0.55; p = 0.002) and personal wellbeing (β = −0.43; p = 0.006).


This sample of ambulant adults with CP perceived their HRQOL to be poor, with some health status and wellbeing domains below that of population wide comparisons. A majority of these individuals also experienced a fall in the last year and a decline in their mobility since reaching adulthood. While further research is required, this preliminary study has highlighted the potential implications of falls and mobility decline on HRQOL in adults with CP.