This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
Almost 230,000 children in the United States have cerebral palsy, or CP. CP affects a person’s movement, balance, and posture. Physical therapy can help children with CP move and communicate better and be more independent.
The research team is comparing giving children with CP either consistent weekly physical therapy sessions or intensive 2-week sessions followed by 18-week breaks. The team wants to compare how well each schedule helps children improve their movement and overall social and language skills.
Who can this research help?
This research can help therapists, doctors, and parents decide how often and how intensively to provide physical therapy to children with CP.
What is the research team doing?
The research team is working with seven clinics to recruit 300 children ages 2 to 8 with CP for a nine-month program. Researchers are assigning children by chance to one of two groups:
- Weekly: Children go to therapy for one hour, once a week for 40 weeks.
- High-intensity: Children go to therapy two hours per day for 10 weekdays in a row. After an 18-week break with monthly monitoring from a physical therapist, children have another set of therapy for 10 weekdays in a row, and a final 18-week break with monitoring.
Physical therapists are meeting with children for one extra hour per month to assess how well children can walk or move. The therapists also ask how parents feel about their child’s health, pain, and ability to take part in daily activities.
Researchers are assessing children before the program begins and at 9, 12, and 18 months after the program starts. Parents are answering surveys at the beginning, middle, and end of the therapy program. The surveys ask parents about their child’s overall health, pain, and daily behaviors.
Parents and caregivers of children with CP are giving feedback on the study design and helping to carry out this study.
Research methods at a glance
- Erin Thomas, adult patient
- Nathalie Maitre, parent
- Clark Family (Mother/older child team)
- Heather Byer, Reaching for the stars
- Cara Layne, parent
- Sue Addingon, parent
- Josephine Kirk, parent
- March of Dimes
- Nisonger Center
Other Stakeholder Partners
- Warren Lo, Nationwide Children's Hospital
- Samantha Peterson, Early Childhood Education
- TBN Insurance representative