Background: This study aimed to assess fatigue amongst young adults with spastic cerebral palsy (CP), to determine subgroups at risk for fatigue and to explore the relationship between fatigue and cardiopulmonary fitness and daily physical activity level. Participants: Young adults with spastic CP, Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) levels I to III, aged 16 to 24 years. Methods: Fatigue (Fatigue Severity Scale) and self-reported daily physical activity (Physical Activity Scale for Individuals with Physical Disabilities) were assessed for 56 participants using questionnaires. Daily physical activity was objectively measured using accelerometry (Vitamove system) over 72 hours. Progressive maximal aerobic cycling was used to measure cardiopulmonary fitness. Results: The mean Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) score was 3.7 (SD 1.4). Forty percent of participants were fatigued, including 12.5% who were severely fatigued. Participants with bilateral CP (FSS = 4.2 (SD 1.4)) were more fatigued compared to those with unilateral CP (FSS = 3.1 (SD 1.3)) (p < 0.01). Levels of cardiopulmonary fitness (2.4 L/min (SD 0.8)) and daily physical activity (8.5% (SD 3.0)) were not significantly related to fatigue (respectively p = 0.10 and p = 0.55), although for cardiopulmonary fitness a trend was found. Conclusions: Fatigue is already present at a relatively young age amongst adults with CP, and CP subtype is a determinant of fatigue. We did not find significant evidence for a cross-sectional relation of fatigue with cardiopulmonary fitness or daily physical activity. Trial registration: Nederland's trial register: NTR1785.

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Keywords Cardiopulmonary fitness, Cerebral palsy, Fatigue, Physical activity, Young adult
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Journal Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Russchen, H, Slaman, J, Stam, H.J, Van Markus-Doornbosch, F, van den Berg-Emons, H.J.G, & Roebroeck, M.E. (2014). Focus on fatigue amongst young adults with spastic cerebral palsy. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 11(1). doi:10.1186/1743-0003-11-161