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Classification systems of communication for use in epidemiological surveillance of children with cerebral palsy

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Lindsay Pennington, Emeritus Professor Allan ColverORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2016.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


AIM Children with cerebral palsy (CP) often experience communication difficulties. We aimed to identify a classification system for communication of children with CP suitable for epidemiological surveillance.METHOD Systems to classify the communication of children with CP were identified. The Communication Function Classification System (CFCS), Functional Communication Classification System (FCCS), and Viking Speech Scale (VSS) were chosen for further investigation and translated. They were administered to 155 children aged 4 to 13 years with CP (across all motor severity levels) from eight European countries. Children's parents/carers, speech therapists, and other health professionals applied the systems through direct observation. Other professionals applied them from case notes only. The systems were assessed for agreement, stability, ease, and feasibility of application.RESULTS Test-retest stability was moderate-to-high for VSS (k=0.66-0.88), CFCS (k=uncomputed-0.91), and FCCS (k=0.52-0.91). Overall interrater agreement was fair to very good for every classification system. VSS achieved the best agreement between parents/carers and speech therapists. VSS was considered the easiest instrument to apply.INTERPRETATION Because of its ease of use by a range of healthcare professionals, the VSS should be considered for CP registers which intend to survey speech intelligibility. For a wider assessment of communication, the CFCS or FCC should be considered.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Virella D, Pennington L, Andersen GL, Andrada MD, Greitane A, Himmelmann K, Prasauskiene A, Rackauskaite G, De La Cruz J, Colver A, Surveillance Cerebral Palsy Europe

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology

Year: 2016

Volume: 58

Issue: 3

Pages: 285-291

Print publication date: 01/03/2016

Online publication date: 14/08/2015

Acceptance date: 29/06/2015

Date deposited: 01/08/2016

ISSN (print): 0012-1622

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8749

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/dmcn.12866


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Funder referenceFunder name
EAHC 2008 1307European Union Health Programme