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Phys Ther. 2011 Sep;91(9):1303-22. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20100207. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

Differences between the family-centered "COPCA" program and traditional infant physical therapy based on neurodevelopmental treatment principles.

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Department of Pediatrics-Developmental Neurology, Beatrix Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.



Evidence for effectiveness of pediatric physical therapy in infants at high risk for developmental motor disorders is limited. Therefore, "Coping With and Caring for Infants With Special Needs" (COPCA), a family-centered, early intervention program, was developed. The COPCA program is based on 2 components: (1) family involvement and educational parenting and (2) the neuromotor principles of the neuronal group selection theory. The COPCA coach uses principles of coaching to encourage the family's own capacities for solving problems of daily care and incorporating variation, along with trial and error in daily activities.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the content of sessions of the home-based, early intervention COPCA program differs from that of traditional infant physical therapy (TIP) sessions, which in the Netherlands are largely based on neurodevelopmental treatment.


The study was conducted at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands.


A quantitative video analysis of therapy sessions was conducted with infants participating in a 2-arm randomized trial.


Forty-six infants at high risk for developmental motor disorders were randomly assigned to receive COPCA (n=21) or TIP (n=25) between 3 and 6 months corrected age. Intervention sessions were videotaped at 4 and 6 months corrected age and analyzed with a standardized observation protocol for the classification of physical therapy actions. Outcome parameters were relative amounts of time spent on specific physical therapy actions.


The content of COPCA and TIP differed substantially. For instance, in TIP sessions, more time was spent on facilitation techniques, including handling, than in COPCA sessions (29% versus 3%, respectively). During COPCA, more time was spent on family coaching and education than during TIP (16% versus 4%, respectively).


The major limitation of the study was its restriction to the Netherlands, implying that findings cannot be generalized automatically to other countries.


The COPCA program differs broadly from TIP as applied in the Netherlands. Studies on the effectiveness of this family-centered program are needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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