Modified constraint-induced movement therapy or bimanual occupational therapy following injection of Botulinum toxin-A to improve bimanual performance in young children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy: a randomised controlled trial methods paper
BACKGROUND: Use of Botulinum toxin-A (BoNT-A) for treatment of upper limb spasticity in children with cerebral palsy has become routine clinical practice in many paediatric treatment centres worldwide. There is now high-level evidence that upper limb BoNT-A injection, in combination with occupational therapy, improves outcomes in children with cerebral palsy at both the body function/structure and activity level domains of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. Investigation is now required to establish what amount and specific type of occupational therapy will further enhance functional outcomes and prolong the beneficial effects of BoNT-A. METHODS/DESIGN: A randomised, controlled, evaluator blinded, prospective parallel-group trial. Eligible participants were children aged 18 months to 6 years, diagnosed with spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy and who were able to demonstrate selective motor control of the affected upper limb. Both groups received upper limb injections of BoNT-A. Children were randomised to either the modified constraint-induced movement therapy group (experimental) or bimanual occupational therapy group (control). Outcome assessments were undertaken at pre-injection and 1, 3 and 6 months following injection of BoNT-A. The primary outcome measure was the Assisting Hand Assessment. Secondary outcomes included: the Quality of Upper Extremity Skills Test; Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory; Canadian Occupational Performance Measure; Goal Attainment Scaling; Pediatric Motor Activity Log; modified Ashworth Scale and; the modified Tardieu Scale. DISCUSSION: The aim of this paper is to describe the methodology of a randomised controlled trial comparing the effects of modified constraint-induced movement therapy (a uni-manual therapy) versus bimanual occupational therapy (a bimanual therapy) on improving bimanual upper limb performance of children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy following upper limb injection of BoNT-A. The paper outlines the background to the study, the study hypotheses, outcome measures and trial methodology. It also provides a comprehensive description of the interventions provided. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ACTRN12605000002684.