Review of Therapeutic Interventions for the Upper Limb Classified by Manual Ability in Children with Cerebral Palsy

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The aim of this literature review was to assemble an inventory of intervention strategies utilized for children diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) based on the Manual Ability Classification System (MACS). The purpose of the inventory is to guide physicians and therapists in intervention selection aimed at improving upper limb function in children with CP. The following databases were searched: CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, ERIC (Educational Research Information Center), Google Scholar, OTSeeker (Occupational Therapy Systematic Evaluation of Evidence), OVID (Ovid Technologies, Inc.), and PubMed. Inclusion criteria were whether the study (1) identified MACS levels of participants, and (2) addressed the effectiveness of intervention on upper limb function. Overall, 74 articles met the inclusion criteria. The summarized data identified 10 categories of intervention. The majority of participants across studies were MACS level II. The most frequently cited interventions were constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT), bimanual training, and virtual reality and computer-based training. Multiple interventions demonstrated effectiveness for upper limb improvement at each MACS level. However, there is a need for additional research for interventions appropriate for MACS levels IV and V. To fully develop an intervention inventory based on manual ability, future studies need to report MACS levels of participants, particularly for splinting and therapy interventions used in combination with surgery.

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