For children with cerebral palsy, just putting on socks or making lunch can be daunting tasks. That’s why researchers at The University of Queensland have designed a special brain-training program to help make these daily tasks easier.
It’s already known that physical therapy improves mobility in people with cerebral palsy. However, many programs only involve an hour of training per week.
Dr Leanne Sakzewski and her team wondered if a more intensive training regimen would work better by helping to form and strengthen new brain pathways.
They invited 10 children with cerebral palsy to a two-week camp in April, where they participated in a range of activities, including arts and crafts and playing with toys.
The researchers deliberately offered as little assistance as possible so that the children could learn the skills themselves.
“If therapists provide too much physical assistance by steadying a child with their hands, we think it can reduce the amount of active learning happening in the brain,” says team member Dr Sarah Reedman.
The researchers are now conducting brain scans to see what changes occurred. They are also evaluating whether the camp has made it easier to perform everyday activities.
“It’s important for us to understand if this therapy is effective for children with bilateral cerebral palsy, as these children often have difficulty achieving the skills they need to be independent,” says Dr Sakzewski.
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