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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2007 Nov;49(11):830-8.

Efficacy of a hand-arm bimanual intensive therapy (HABIT) in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy: a randomized control trial.

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  • 1Division of Physical Therapy, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy (CP) have impairments in bimanual coordination above and beyond their unilateral impairments. Recently we developed hand-arm bimanual intensive therapy (HABIT), using the principles of motor learning, and neuroplasticity, to address these bimanual impairments. A single-blinded randomized control study of HABIT was performed to examine its efficacy in children with hemiplegic CP with mild to moderate hand involvement. Twenty children (age range 3 y 6 mo-15 y 6 mo) were randomized to either an intervention (n=10: seven males, three females; mean age 8 y 7 mo, SD 4 y) or a delayed treatment control group (n=10: seven males, three females; mean age 6 y 10 mo, SD 2 y 4 mo). Children were engaged in play and functional activities that provided structured bimanual practice 6 hours per day for 10 days. Each child was evaluated immediately before and after the intervention, and again at 1-month post-intervention. Children in the intervention group demonstrated improved scores on the Assisting Hand Assessment, increased involved extremity use measured using accelerometry and a caregiver survey, bimanual items of the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, and the simultaneity of completing a draw-opening task with two hands (p<0.05 in all cases). The results suggest that for this carefully selected subgroup of children with hemiplegic CP, HABIT appears to be efficacious in improving bimanual hand use.

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