Adolescents make similar gains as children after SEMLS

July 8, 2024
Previous research led by CHLA has shown that clinical gait analysis findings can reduce the chances of a child needing additional corrective surgeries after SEMLS by almost 70%.

Single event multilevel surgery (SEMLS) is the standard of care for helping children with cerebral palsy improve or preserve their ability to walk. Ideally, surgeons perform this complex operation when children are between 7 and 10 years old.

But what about older kids and teens? Can they still benefit from this procedure?

A new study from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has found that this answer is yes—and that patients experience similar gait improvements after SEMLS regardless of age.

The retrospective study looked at 126 youth with cerebral palsy who were seen in the John C. Wilson Jr. Motion and Sports Analysis Lab at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles between 2011 and 2023.

All patients in the study had undergone at least two gait analyses—one before SEMLS and one after SEMLS. The team divided patients into two groups: those younger than 13, and those 13 to 21.

Researchers then compared how much patients in each group improved their gait quality and function. The team looked at two measures: gait deviation index (GDI), which measures how a patient’s gait compares to a typically developing individual, and functional mobility scale (FMS), which rates how a child walks at distances that mimic home, school and community environments.

The team found that:

  • GDI improved by 6.1 points in the younger group, and 6.4 points in the older group—similar but significant gains.
  • FMS scores were stable or improved in 80% to 90% of patients in both groups.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles release on Newswise