Researchers presented the findings of a consumer-led pilot study of intensive physical therapy for children living with cerebral palsy at the Cerebral Palsy Intensive Therapies Summit held in the Mornington Peninsula on Friday, 22 March.
The preliminary study, using a Therasuit (a soft, supportive suit worn during intensive physical therapy) arose from Associate Professor Tim Moss and Dr Miranda Davies-Tuck meeting with a family whose son, Max, has cerebral palsy and benefited from the suit.
Max’s parents, Michael and Claire Shearman, established the charity, ‘Max on a Mission’, which raised funds for the study.
“Max’s parents realised that a lack of evidence about the effectiveness of Therasuit therapy is a barrier to its wider adoption for other children with cerebral palsy,” A/Prof Moss said.
“Intensive therapy programs allow children living with physical disabilities to thrive and reach once unimaginable levels of mobility and independence, but they are both difficult and expensive to access,” Mr Shearman said.
Pilot study provides hope
Twelve children, aged two to 12 years, received three blocks of intensive physical therapy over one year, with intervening weekly two-hour sessions for the study. The results showed Gross Motor Measure scores increased for every child in the study by 10 to 32 per cent.
The greatest improvements were
- Crawling and kneeling – up to 75 per cent increase
- Standing – up to 67 per cent increase
- Walking, running and jumping – up to 57 per cent increase
“While the findings are not yet published, they are encouraging. Movement in the children improved significantly, which impressed the parents,” A/Prof Moss said.
Where to now?
It is hoped the results encourage the Federal Government to invest in improving the lives of children with cerebral palsy by providing funding for intensive physical therapy. The summit is the next step with this collaboration, to improve access to intensive physical therapies.
Cerebral palsy in Australia
- About 34,000 people are living with cerebral palsy in Australia, with the number expected to increase to 47,000 by 2050.
- One in 700 Australian babies are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This equates to one child born with cerebral palsy every 15 hours.
- The cause of cerebral palsy is unknown and there is no cure. Early diagnosis and intervention in children with cerebral palsy is critical for maximising their potential.
Collaborators: Cerebral Palsy Alliance
Funders: Max on a Mission
Hudson Institute communications
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