What are the Functional Classifications of Cerebral Palsy?

The Gross Motor Function Classification System for cerebral palsy describes the ability of children, birth to 18 years of age, to function and move around in their daily life. The emphasis is on how well a child can sit, moving between positions and walk. This is a five level classification system based on function, mobility inside and outdoors and the need for assistive technology or devices to achieve mobility such as walkers, crutches, and canes and wheel mobility devices. The purpose of the classification system is to understand a child’s current function and mobility to plan interventions to help them be more independent in their lives. For a full description of the Gross Motor Function Classification System, see the CanChild Center.

Level 1: Walks Without Limitations

  • Uses no assistive devices (such as crutches)
  • Can walk indoors and outdoors and climb stairs; no limits.
  • Can perform usual activities such as running and jumping

  • Has decreased speed, balance and coordination


Level 2: Walks With Limitations

  • Is limited in outdoor activities
  • Has the ability to walk indoors and outdoors and climb stairs with a railing
  • Has difficulty with uneven surfaces, inclines or in crowds.
  • Has minimal ability to run or jump.


Level 3: Walks Using a Hand-Held Mobility Device

  • Walks with assistive mobility devices indoors and outdoors on level surfaces
  • May be able to climb stairs using a railing
  • May propel a manual wheelchair (with assistance needed for long distances or uneven surfaces)


Level 4: Self-Mobility with Limitations; May Use Powered Mobility

  • Self-mobility severely limited even with assistive devices
  • Uses wheelchairs most of the time and may propel their own power wheelchair


Level 5: Transported in a Manual Wheelchair

  • Has physical impairments that restrict voluntary control of movement and the ability to maintain head and neck position against gravity
  • Is impaired in all areas of motor function.
  • Cannot sit or stand on their own even with equipment.
  • Cannot do independent mobility, though may be able to use a power wheelchair


Illistrations provided by: Matthew Heern

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