Institute of Neuroscience

Hand function in children with hemiplegic cerebral

Improving hand function in children with, or at risk of, hemiplegic cerebral palsy

Hemiplegic cerebral palsy (CP) affects around 12000 children in the UK. It often leads to difficulties with bimanual tasks, many of which we take for granted to achieve activities of daily living.

Our aim is to evaluate simple, effective, home-delivered, play-based interventions to improve hand function in hemiplegic cerebral palsy, which could easily be incorporated into the everyday life of a family. In order to do this we need to understand how these children use their hands and how movement control differs in children with hemiplegia and healthy controls. We have developed ways to assess motor planning skills and uni- and bimanual dexterity in children with and without hemiplegia across the age spectrum.

We have just completed a trial comparing the effectiveness of two different play-based approaches where children are given games to play at home over a 3 month period, testing two ways of learning movements. A little like being given specific exercises by a physiotherapist, with specific goals – but in the context of a game. We have also just finished a preliminary study of functional taping for the thumb and wrist in infants and young children. We are now developing an early intervention aiming to improve motor outcome for infants at risk of developing hemiplegic CP.

Newcastle University staff and students linked to the project:

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