Robotic Rehabilitation and Brain Stimulation for Children with Hemiparetic Cerebral Palsy
Rachel Hawe, DPT, PhD
BACKGROUND: Hemiparetic cerebral palsy, commonly caused by a perinatal stroke, causes motor and sensory deficits in the arm and leg on one side of the body. We currently lack evidence-based interventions to address the motor impairments that will impact a child throughout their life.
GAP: This study will determine if robotic therapy combined with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a form of non-invasive brain stimulation, can improve motor performance in children with hemiparetic cerebral palsy.
HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesize that children with hemiparetic cerebral palsy will show significant improvements in motor function after completing a 10-day trial or robotic rehabilitation, and that tDCS will augment robotic rehabilitation and lead to further improvements in motor function.
METHODS: This study is a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial of children ages 6-19 with hemiparetic cerebral palsy. Children will complete 10 sessions of robotic rehabilitation targeting motor and sensory impairments in the arm, with children randomized to receive concurrent tDCS or sham tDCS.
IMPACT: Hemiparetic cerebral palsy causes a lifetime of disability, with novel approaches to treatment needed to improve motor deficits. Robotic rehabilitation and non-invasive brain stimulation have the potential to improve motor performance in a child-friendly manner without creating a large burden on the health care system.