A new study has suggested an additional treatment option for children with cerebral palsy that complements traditional therapy.
This new rehabilitation approach that focuses on where a child with cerebral palsy lives and plays, not just improving the child's balance, posture and movement skills is just as beneficial as traditional child-focused therapy, offering parents an additional treatment option for their child.
The McMaster study, in conjunction with researchers at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and Alberta Health Services in Calgary, is the first randomized trial to examine the effects of therapy focused on changing a child's task or environment, not the child.
Context-focused and child-focused therapies were evaluated in a randomized controlled trial of 128 children with cerebral palsy ranging in age from one year to almost six year old.
The children, from 19 different rehabilitation centres in Ontario and Alberta, received one of the two approaches for six months. Between assessments at six and nine months, they returned to their regular therapy schedule.
Researchers found that while both groups improved significantly over the study, there were "no significant differences in daily functioning" between the two treatment groups, reported lead author Mary Law, professor in McMaster's School of Rehabilitation Science and co-founder of the university's CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research.
"This study provides evidence that each intervention approach yields equivalent important change after a six-month intervention," Law said.
"We also found no difference between the therapy approaches for the outcome of parent empowerment."
The study has been published in the journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.