Canadian researchers surveyed over 800 families with children who had cerebral palsy to see how well they were integrated into daily life.
The team chose families from France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, the UK and Ireland and interviewed them about ten topics including mealtimes, communication and recreation to gauge how well they interacted with their disabled child.
Those children who suffered the most from their disabilities - either in terms of pain or impairment of their basic skills - were found to be significantly less likely to take part in family life.
Participation also varied from country to country, with those in Denmark much more likely to be involved.
Now the authors of the findings, published today at bmj.com, are urging every country to draw up national guidelines to ensure disabled children are able to participate in daily life as much as possible.
And Professor Peter Rosenbaum, who led the study, has called on healthcare professionals to tailor treatment to include training in basic life skills.
He said: "If we can broaden our clinical thinking beyond the biomedical dimensions of diseases to include participation … we may help improve the quality of life and long term wellbeing of disabled children and young people along with their families."
Big On Sandbank, 24th April 2009