General movements detect early signs of hemiplegia in term infants with neonatal cerebral infarction

A. Guzzetta, E. Mercuri, G. Rapisardi, F. Ferrari, M. F. Roversi, F. Cowan, M. Rutherford, P. B. Paolicelli, C. Einspieler, A. Boldrini, L. Dubowitz, H. F R Prechtl, G. Cioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Studies have reported that infants with hemiplegia of congenital origin may have a period between birth and up to 12 months when clinical signs of hemiplegia are not evident. The aim of this study was to establish whether the assessment of general movements (GMs) may help in the earlier detection of signs of hemiplegia. Subjects and Methods: Eleven infants with cerebral infarction on brain MRI, and eleven normal controls were enrolled in the study. Quality of GMs was assessed from videotapes between 3 and 6 weeks and between 9 and 16 weeks. Neurological outcome was evaluated at least at two years. Results: Seven of the 11 infants had an assessment performed between 3 and 6 weeks: abnormal GMs were observed in all the infants who developed hemiplegia, but one child had abnormal GMs and a normal outcome. All 11 infants had a scorable assessment between 9 and 16 weeks. In all a specific type of GMs, fidgety movements (FMs), were predictive of neurological outcome. The presence of early asymmetries at both 3-6 and 9-16 weeks was also significantly associated with later signs of hemiplegia. Conclusions: The assessment of GMs after the neonatal period appears to be very useful in the early identification of hemiplegia in infants with cerebral infarction. Whilst the prediction of hemiplegia should be possible from early neonatal MRI brain scans, this facility is not always available. Observation of GMs is a bedside clinical approach that allows confirmation of early prediction from MRI, early rehabilitation if needed and reassurance that neurological outcome will be good where that is appropriate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-66
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003


  • General movements
  • Hemiplegia
  • Infarction
  • Neonatal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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