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Change the environment, not the child
Date:8/17/2011

Hamilton, ON (August 16, 2011) -- A successful new rehabilitation approach to treating children with cerebral palsy puts its focus on where a child lives and plays, not just improving the child's balance, posture and movement skills.

Called a "context-focused intervention", McMaster University and the University of Alberta researchers report in a new study this approach 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. It appeared in the July issue of the medical journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.

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. Therapy was provided by occupational therapists and physical therapists. 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.

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage in the brain before or just after birth that results in problems with muscle tone and movement, and impacts ability to perform everyday activities. More than 50,000 Canadians have cerebral palsy, which occ
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Contact: Veronica McGuire
vmcguir@mcmaster.ca
90-552-591-402-2169
McMaster University
Source:Eurekalert

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