Patterns of Health Service Use Among Young People With Cerebral Palsy in England

Jennifer M. Ryan, Grace Lavelle, Nicola Theis, Cherry Kilbride*, Marika Noorkoiv

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although the provision of healthcare for people with cerebral palsy (CP) is typically focussed on childhood, many people with CP require access to services periodically throughout their life. Few studies have examined patterns of health service use among young people with CP in England. Understanding patterns of use may inform future service development. Objective: To describe patterns of visits to rehabilitation and medical professionals among ambulatory young people with CP living in England, and identify factors associated with service use. Methods: Sixty-two young people with CP aged 10–19 years [mean (SD) age 13.7 (2.5) years] in Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) levels I-III reported visits to a range of health professionals, hospital admissions and visits to the emergency department over a median duration of 34 weeks (min–max: 12–34 weeks). Negative binomial models were used to examine factors associated with number of visits. Results: Physiotherapists were the most commonly used professional, with 67.7% of participants visiting a physiotherapist at least once, followed by dentists (66.1%), general practitioners (48.4%), occupational therapists (40.3%) and orthopaedic surgeons (40.3%). Physiotherapists were also the most frequently visited professional with a total of 473 visits (13.3 visits per person-year). Speech and language therapists (5.0 visits per person-year), occupational therapists (4.5 visits per person-year) and nurses (4.3 per person-year) were the next most frequently visited professionals. Age, GMFCS level, and speech impairment were associated with rate of visits to a physiotherapist. Conclusions: The proportion of young people who visited medical and rehabilitation professionals during the study period varied considerably depending on the profession. Generally, the proportion of young people using services was low. In the context of limited resources, data on service use in combination with data on unmet need, may support the reorganisation of services to maximise benefits to young people with CP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number659031
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2021


  • adolescent
  • cerebral palsy
  • health services
  • neurological disorders
  • rehabilitation


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