Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability in childhood. CP comprises a heterogeneous group of disorders that can result in spasticity, dystonia, muscle contractures, weakness and coordination difficulty that ultimately affects the ability to control movements. Traditionally, CP has been classified using a combination of the motor type and the topographical distribution, as well as subjective severity level. Imprecise terms such as these tell very little about what a person is able to do functionally and can impair clear communication between providers. More recently, classification systems have been created employing a simple ordinal grading system of functional performance. These systems allow a more precise discussion between providers, as well as better subject stratification for research. The goal of this review is to describe four common functional classification systems for cerebral palsy: the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS), the Manual Ability Classification System (MACS), the Communication Function Classification System (CFCS), and the Eating and Drinking Ability Classification System (EDACS). These measures are all standardized, reliable, and complementary to one another.
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