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Open Access Home-Based Computer-Assisted Upper Limb Exercise for Young Children with Cerebral Palsy: A Feasibility Study Investigating Impact on Motor Control and Functional Outcome

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Objective: We developed a home-based rehabilitation exercise system incorporating a powered joystick linked to a computer game, to enable children with arm paresis to participate in independent home exercise. We investigated the feasibility and impact of using the system in the home setting.

Methods: Eighteen children with cerebral palsy (median age 7.5 years, age range 5–16 years) were recruited from local National Health Service and the exercise system was installed in their home for approximately 4 weeks. Baseline and post-intervention assessments were taken: Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM); kinematic measurement of movement quality (indexed by duration and smoothness) measured using a motion tracking system when performing a standardized computer task.

Results: The system was used for a median time of 75 min (interquartile range (IQR) 17–271), equating to 606 outward and 734 inward movements. Pre-COPM, (median 4.2); post-COPM (median 6.0); obs = 34; z = 3.62, p < 0.01). Kinematic analysis of pre-and post-intervention movements on the standardized task showed decreased duration and increased smoothness.

Conclusion: Some improvements in self-reported function and quality of movement are observed. This pilot study suggests that the system could be used to augment home-based arm exercise in an engaging way for children with cerebral palsy, although a controlled clinical trial is required to establish clinical efficacy. The feasibility of this technology has been demonstrated.

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Keywords: CEREBRAL PALSY; CHILDREN; ROBOTIC

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine is the international peer-reviewed journal published in English, with at least 10 issues published per year.

    Original articles, reviews, case reports, short communications, special reports and letters to the editor are published, as also are editorials and book reviews. The journal strives to provide its readers with a variety of topics including: functional assessment and intervention studies, clinical studies in various patient groups, methodology in physical and rehabilitation medicine, epidemiological studies on disabling conditions and reports on vocational and sociomedical aspects of rehabilitation.

    The journal is read by a wide group of healthcare professionals including specialists in rehabilitation medicine, neurology, clinical neurophysiology, general medicine, psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers.

    Contributions from all parts of the world and from different professions in rehabilitation are welcome.

    ISI Impact Factor 2009: 1.882.

    Owned by Foundation of Rehabilitation Information.

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