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Health issues in polyhandicapped patients according to age: Results of a large French cross-sectional study

Rousseau MC, Baumstarck K, Khaldi-Cherif N, Felce A, Valkov M, Brisse C, Loundou A, Auquier P, Billette de Villemeur T, French Polyhandicap Group.

Rev Neurol (Paris). 2020;176(5):370-379. doi: 10.1016/j.neurol.2019.10.006.


Introduction: A better understanding of the natural course of the health status of patients with polyhandicap may optimize preventive and curative care management. From a large sample of patients aged from 3 to 25 years, we reported the description of their health status.

Methods: This was an 18-month cross-sectional study including patients aged from 3 to 25 years with a combination of severe motor deficiency and profound intellectual impairment. The patients were recruited from 4 specialized rehabilitation centers, 9 residential facilities, and a pediatric/neurological department. The following data were collected: polyhandicap etiology, health status (impairments, comorbidities, and neurodevelopmental status), medical devices, and rehabilitation procedures.

Results: A total of 545 patients were included (n=80 [3-5 years], n=166 [6-11 y], n=155 [12-17 y], and n=144 [18-25 y]). The etiology of polyhandicap was unknown for 11.5% of the cases. Behavioral disorders and (orthopedic and digestive) comorbidities were more frequent in the oldest age classes. The neurodevelopmental status of the patients was close to those of a 5- to 7-month-old child without progression across age. Gastrostomy was the most frequent device needed by the patients.

Discussion/conclusion: Early detection and management of impairments and comorbidities may improve the disease course of the patients.

Keywords: Comorbidity; Disability; Health status; Mental retardation; Polyhandicap.