Experimental treatment yields new hope for children battling cerebral palsy

Washington, D.C. Children with cerebral palsy who are severely impaired showed significant improvement in their motor skills using a new experimental physical therapy regimen, said researchers at Georgetown University and University of Alabama at Birmingham. The study the first randomized, controlled trial of its kind conducted on children appears in the February 2 issue of the journal Pediatrics.

All treated children in this study outperformed the children in conventional therapy across all measures of success, including how well they could move their arms post-therapy and their ability to do new tasks during research and at home with their families.

Children with cerebral palsy (CP) exhibit an inability to control their muscles as a result of damage to the region of the brain that controls muscle tone. The result often renders children unable to perform seemingly simple everyday tasks such as picking up a cup, eating finger foods or reaching to be picked up by a parent. Conventional physical therapy interventions have done little to improve motor skills or overall quality of life for children, which led researchers to explore other more intensive and innovative therapies.

Georgetown professor Sharon Landesman Ramey while working at the University of Alabama (UAB), in collaboration with Drs. Stephanie DeLuca and Karen Echols, borrowed from the world of adult stroke recovery treatments to try "constraint-induced movement therapy" on children with CP. This therapy was pioneered by Dr. Edward Taub at UAB, and has shown significant results in helping adults recover motor function post-stroke.

"The pediatric version of constraint-induced movement therapy we created has produced very large and lasting benefits for these children," said Ramey, professor at Georgetown's School of Nursing & Health Studies and Co-director of Georgetown's Center for Health and Education. "Every child in the study responded to this treatmen

Contact: Elizabeth McDonald
Georgetown University Medical Center

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