"These children have a disorder that can make it difficult to express how they feel, but it must be unpleasant to have cold hands and feet. I find it surprising that the matter hasn't been given more attention" said physiotherapist Lena Svedberg, author of the thesis.
The thesis demonstrates that skin temperature in brain-damaged preschool children in wheelchairs was several degrees lower than in children without neurological disorders.
The temperature of their feet was three degrees lower and their hands two degrees lower than children without brain damage.
The reason behind their cold extremities may be that the brain damage affects the part of the nervous system that is not controlled by the will and which, among other things, regulates blood circulation, digestion and sleep.
"This hypothesis is supported by a study in the thesis that shows that children with cerebral palsy who had cold hands and feet also had problems with constipation, sleeping disorders, pain and impaired well-being," Svedberg said.
Currently, there is no established treatment for cold hands and feet, but a small pilot study - also part of the thesis - shows that acupuncture might be effective.
"Acupuncture activates the nerve fibres that lead inwards and can affect activity in the autonomic nervous system. We could see that treatment raised skin temperature in some children with neurological disorders, but it is a very small study and more research is needed," Svedberg said.