The Journal of Physiotherapy completed a research review examining whether constraint-induced movement therapy improves upper limb activity and participation in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Only randomized trials (31 papers out of 597 screened abstracts) were included in the review. The randomized trials included children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy with any level of motor disability placed in either an experimental group who received constraint-induced movement therapy (defined as restraint of the less affected upper limb during supervised activity practice of the more affected upper limb) or a control group who received no intervention, sham intervention, or the same dose of upper limb therapy.
The results indicated that:
- constraint-induced movement therapy was more effective than no/sham intervention in terms of upper limb activity and participation.
- although constraint-induced movement therapy was no better than the same dose of upper limb therapy without restraint either in terms of upper limb activity or participation.
- the effect of constraint-induced movement therapy was not related to the duration of intervention or the age of the children.
The researchers concluded that constraint-induced movement therapy is more effective than no intervention, but no more effective than the same intervention of upper limb practice without restraint.
Reference: Chiu H-C, Ada L (2016) Constraint-induced movement therapy improves upper limb activity and participation in hemiplegic cerebral palsy: a systematic review. Journal of Physiotherapy 62: 130–137.
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