Constraint-induced movement therapy in children with unilateral cerebral palsy (Review)

Brian J. Hoare, Margaret A. Wallen, Megan N. Thorley, Michelle L. Jackman, Leeanne M. Carey, Christine Imms

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


Background Unilateral cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition that affects muscle control and function on one side of the body. Children with unilateral CP experience difficulties using their hands together secondary to disturbances that occur in the developing fetal or infant brain. Often, the more affected limb is disregarded. Constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) aims to increase use of the more affected upper limb and improve bimanual performance. CIMT is based on two principles: restraining the use of the less affected limb (for example, using a splint, mitt or sling) and intensive therapeutic practice of the more affected limb. Objectives To evaluate the effect of constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) in the treatment of the more affected upper limb in children with unilateral CP. Search methods In March 2018 we searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PEDro, OT seeker, five other databases and three trials registers.We also ran citation searches, checked reference lists, contacted experts, handsearched key journals and searched using Google Scholar. Selection criteria Randomised controlled trials (RCTs), cluster-RCTs or clinically controlled trials implemented with children with unilateral CP, aged between 0 and 19 years, where CIMT was compared with a different form of CIMT, or a low dose, high-dose or dose-matched alternative form of upper-limb intervention such as bimanual intervention. Primarily, outcomes were bimanual performance, unimanual capacity and manual ability. Secondary outcomes included measures of self-care, body function, participation and quality of life. Data collection and analysis Two review authors independently screened titles and abstracts to eliminate ineligible studies. Five review authors were paired to extract data and assess risk of bias in each included study. GRADE assessments were undertaken by two review authors. Main results We included 36 trials (1264 participants), published between 2004 and 2018. Sample sizes ranged from11 to 105 (mean 35).Mean age was 5.96 years (standard deviation (SD) 1.82), range three months to 19.8 years; 53% male and 47% participants had left hemiplegia. Fifty-seven outcome measures were used across studies. Average length of CIMT programs was four weeks (range one to 10 weeks). Frequency of sessions ranged from twice weekly to seven days per week.Duration of intervention sessions ranged from0.5 to eight hours per day. The mean total number of hours of CIMT provided was 137 hours (range 20 to 504 hours). The most common constraint devices were a mitt/glove or a sling (11 studies each). We judged the risk of bias as moderate to high across the studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD004149
Number of pages278
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Primary outcomes at primary endpoint (immediately after intervention)

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