Efficacy of three therapy approaches in preschool children with cerebral palsy: a randomized controlled trial

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To examine the efficacy of child-focused, context-focused, and regular care approaches, delivered in a rehabilitation setting by physical or occupational therapists to preschool children with cerebral palsy (CP), in optimizing the child's self-care and mobility capabilities.


A multicentre randomized controlled trial clustered at therapist level was conducted in 13 rehabilitation centres. It included 68 children with CP (38 males, 30 females; mean age 3y, SD 6mo, range 1y 11mo–4y), classified as Gross Motor Function Classification System levels I to IV, who were already receiving therapy. Children received a child-focused, context-focused, or regular care approach during a 6-month period. Self-care and mobility capabilities were assessed with the Functional Skills Scale of the Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory.


The child-focused, context-focused, and regular care approaches all resulted in significant but similar improvements in self-care (regular: reference; child-focused: β=−0.11, 95% confidence interval [CI] −0.68 to 0.46; context-focused: β=0.13, CI −0.38 to 0.64) and mobility (regular: reference; child-focused: β=−0.09, CI=−0.93 to 0.75; and context-focused: β=0.14, CI −0.65 to 0.94) capabilities.


The results suggest that the three therapy approaches were equally efficacious for preschool children with CP. Depending on a child's individual situation each approach can be selected.

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