The prevalence of cerebral palsy (CP) in countries in Africa is suggested to be higher than in Western countries. Research in Western resource‐rich contexts has demonstrated the importance of environmental factors in the activities and participation of individuals with CP, as illustrated by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Although the domains of the ICF are often acknowledged in research on CP in western contexts, the extent to which these domains have been explored in resource‐limited areas is unknown. The current review aims to describe the nature of the current published literature on CP in African countries and how it aligns with the domains of the ICF.
Key informants familiar with the literature on CP in Africa were consulted, and a literature search was conducted to identify articles on CP originating from countries in Africa. Identified articles were assessed to determine the ICF domains that align with the studies. Themes relating to each domain were identified.
Twenty‐seven studies were included. The majority of studies were quantitative (70.3%) and focused on children or caregivers. Most studies included a body functions and structures component (70.4%), focusing on impairment rather than functioning. Activities and participation domains were addressed, but often focused solely on mobility. Environmental factors typically related to resources and policies and personal factors were often unexplored.
Research on CP in Africa tends to be grounded in a biomedical approach to disability and does not explicitly use the ICF as a guiding framework. Studies exploring body function and structures tend to be descriptive in nature, whereas activities and participation, and environmental and personal factors, represent modifiable factors that may be addressed with interventions. Knowledge translation activities that promote the ideas of the ICF in an African context should therefore be considered.