Perceived barriers, enablers, and modifications to tests assessing pediatric lower limb neurological impairment: An International Delphi Survey

Ramona Clark, Emmah Baque, Cherie Wells, Andrea Bialocerkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Accurate, clinically meaningful outcome measures that are responsive to change are essential for selecting interventions and assessing their effects. Little guidance exists on the selection and administration of neurological impairment tests in children with a neurological condition. Clinicians therefore frequently modify adult assessments for use in children, yet the literature is inconsistent. This study aims to establish consensus on neurological conditions most likely to require neurological impairment test in pediatrics and the barriers, enablers, and modifications perceived to enhance test reliability.
Methods: Over a 2-round modified Delphi study, a panel of experts (n = 24) identified neurological conditions perceived to typically require pediatric neurological testing and the modifications to address barriers/enablers to testing. Experts comprised physical therapists with evidence of advanced training or research in pediatrics. Using a 6-point Likert scale (6 = strongly agree, 5 = agree, 4 = somewhat agree, 3 = somewhat disagree, 2 = disagree, 1 = strongly disagree), experts rated statements from existing literature. Thematic analyses were conducted on responses to open-ended questions. A priori consensus was pre-set at 65% agreement/disagreement. Median, mode, and interquartile ranges estimated perceived importance. Cessation was pre-determined by non-consensus items <10% and panel fatigue.
Results: Experts reached consensus on 107/112 (96%) items, including identifying 25/26 (96%) neurological conditions they perceived to require routine neurological testing. Experts strongly agreed with high importance that appropriately trained, experienced therapists are less variable when testing children. Communication modifications were perceived as most important.
Conclusion: High levels of consensus support the use of lower limb neurological testing in a range of pediatric neurological conditions. Trained clinicians should document modifications such as visual aid use. Using recommended modifications could encourage consistency among clinicians.
Impact: This is the first study to our knowledge to identify the barriers and enablers to pediatric neurological testing. Barriers and enablers were partially addressed through suggested modifications. Further rigorous examination of these modifications is required to support their use.
Lay Summary: This study supports that clinicians should adapt their communication for children and young people with neurological problems to include visual aids and equipment demonstration.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberpzaa233
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Therapy
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


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