Special communication| Volume 86, ISSUE 4, P837-844, April 2005

Methods of constraint-induced movement therapy for children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy: Development of a child-friendly intervention for improving upper-extremity function


      Gordon AM, Charles J, Wolf SL. Methods of constraint-induced movement therapy for children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy: development of a child-friendly intervention for improving upper-extremity function. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2005;86:837-44.
      We delineate the methodology for constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) modified for children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy (CP) and describe important considerations that need to be made when testing this intervention in children. The resulting intervention evolved from piloting and testing it with 38 children with hemiplegic CP who were between the ages of 4 and 14 years. Thirty-seven successfully completed the treatment protocol. The intervention retains the 2 major elements of the adult CIMT (repetitive practice, shaping) and was constructed to be as child-friendly as possible. It involves restraining the noninvolved extremity with a sling and having the child engage in unimanual activities with the involved extremity 6 hours a day for 10 days (60h). Specific activities are selected by considering joint movements with pronounced deficits and improvement of which interventionists believe have greatest potential. The activities are chosen to elicit repetitive practice and shaping. The intervention is conducted in groups of 2 to 3 children to provide social interaction, modeling, and encouragement. Each child is assigned to an interventionist to maintain at least a 1:1 ratio. CIMT can be modified to be child-friendly while maintaining all practice elements of the adult CIMT. The modified therapy is tolerated by most children. Further modifications will likely be required to hone in on the specific components of the intervention that are most effective before applying them to children who are most likely to benefit.

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