Alterations in regional shape on ipsilateral and contralateral cortex contrast in children with unilateral cerebral palsy and are predictive of multiple outcomes
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Congenital brain lesions result in a wide range of cerebral tissue alterations observed in children with cerebral palsy (CP) that are associated with a range of functional impairments. The relationship between injury severity and functional outcomes, however, remains poorly understood. This research investigates the differences in cortical shape between children with congenital brain lesions and typically developing children (TDC) and investigates the correlations between cortical shape and functional outcome in a large cohort of patients diagnosed with unilateral CP. Using 139 structural magnetic resonance images, including 95 patients with clinically diagnosed CP and 44 TDC, cortical segmentations were obtained using a modified expectation maximization algorithm. Three shape characteristics (cortical thickness, curvature, and sulcal depth) were computed within a number of cortical regions. Significant differences in these shape measures compared to the TDC were observed on both the injured hemisphere of children with CP (P < 0.004), as well as on the apparently uninjured hemisphere, illustrating potential compensatory mechanisms in these children. Furthermore, these shape measures were significantly correlated with several functional outcomes, including motor, cognition, vision, and communication (P < 0.012), with three out of these four models performing well on test set validation. This study highlights that cortical neuroplastic effects may be quantified using MR imaging, allowing morphological changes to be studied longitudinally, including any influence of treatment. Ultimately, such approaches could be used for the long term prediction of outcomes and the tailoring of treatment to individuals.
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