Effectiveness of functional hand splinting and the cognitive orientation to occupational performance (CO-OP) approach in children with cerebral palsy and brain injury: two randomised controlled trial protocols
BACKGROUND: Cerebral palsy (CP) and brain injury (BI) are common conditions that have devastating effects on a child's ability to use their hands. Hand splinting and task-specific training are two interventions that are often used to address deficits in upper limb skills, both in isolation or concurrently. The aim of this paper is to describe the method to be used to conduct two randomised controlled trials (RCT) investigating (a) the immediate effect of functional hand splints, and (b) the effect of functional hand splints used concurrently with task-specific training compared to functional hand splints alone, and to task-specific training alone in children with CP and BI. The Cognitive Orientation to Occupational Performance (CO-OP) approach will be the task-specific training approach used. METHODS/DESIGN: Two concurrent trials; a two group, parallel design, RCT with a sample size of 30 participants (15 per group); and a three group, parallel design, assessor blinded, RCT with a sample size of 45 participants (15 per group). INCLUSION CRITERIA: age 4-15 years; diagnosis of CP or BI; Manual Abilities Classification System (MACS) level I - IV; hand function goals; impaired hand function; the cognitive, language and behavioural ability to participate in CO-OP. Participants will be randomly allocated to one of 3 groups; (1) functional hand splint only (n=15); (2) functional hand splint combined with task-specific training (n=15); (3) task-specific training only (n=15). Allocation concealment will be achieved using sequentially numbered, sealed opaque envelopes opened by an off-site officer after baseline measures. Treatment will be provided for a period of 2 weeks, with outcome measures taken at baseline, 1 hour after randomisation, 2 weeks and 10 weeks. The functional hand splint will be a wrist cock-up splint (+/- thumb support or supination strap). Task-specific training will involve 10 sessions of CO-OP provided in a group of 2-4 children. Primary outcome measures will be the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) and the Goal Attainment Scale (GAS). Analysis will be conducted on an intention-to-treat basis. DISCUSSION: This paper outlines the protocol for two randomised controlled trials investigating functional hand splints and CO-OP for children with CP and BI.