Disorders in different levels of body representation (i.e., body schema, body structural description, and body image) are present in hemiplegic cerebral palsy (HCP). However, it remains unclear whether the body image develops from aspects of body schema and body structural description, and how this occurs in children with HCP.
Objective and methods
In a cross-sectional study, we ... [Show full abstract] investigated 53 children with HCP (mean age about 10 years) and 204 typically developing (TD) control children to qualitatively evaluate whether and how body schema (related sensorimotor experiences) and body structural description (related visuospatial experiences) affect the development of children’s body image and whether this development is delayed through HCP. Graph analysis was used to create a lexical-semantic map of body representation from data of a semantic word fluency task.
Results indicated a similar qualitative pattern of influences of sensorimotor and visuospatial experiences on lexical-semantic knowledge of body parts, with a delayed developmental course in children with HCP compared to TD children.
These findings suggest that children’s body image seemed to be influenced by body schema and body structural descriptions as indicated by poorer lexical-semantic knowledge of body parts in children with HCP due to missing physical experiences of the affected body parts. This might imply that “body talk” may beneficially complement physical therapy for children with HCP to promote body image development.