Immediate effect of a functional wrist orthosis for children with cerebral palsy or brain injury: A randomized controlled trial

Michelle Jackman, Iona Novak, Natasha Lannin, Claire Galea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Study Design: Two-group randomized controlled trial. Introduction: Upper limb orthoses worn during functional tasks are commonly used in pediatric neurologic rehabilitation, despite a paucity of high-level evidence. Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this study was to investigate if a customized functional wrist orthosis, when placed on the limb, leads to an immediate improvement in hand function for children with cerebral palsy or brain injury. Methods: A 2-group randomized controlled trial involving 30 children was conducted. Participants were randomized to either receive a customized functional wrist orthosis (experimental, n = 15) or not receive an orthosis (control, n = 15). The box and blocks test was administered at baseline and repeated 1 hour after experimental intervention, with the orthosis on if randomized to the orthotic group. Results: After intervention, there were no significant differences on the box and blocks test between the orthotic group (mean, 10.13; standard deviation, 11.476) and the no orthotic group (mean, 14.07; standard deviation, 11.106; t[28], −0.954; P =.348; and 95% confidence interval, −12.380 to 4.513). Discussion: In contrast to the findings of previous studies, our results suggest that a functional wrist orthosis, when supporting the joint in a ‘typical’ position, may not lead to an immediate improvement in hand function. Conclusions: Wearing a functional wrist orthosis did not lead to an immediate improvement in the ability of children with cerebral palsy or brain injury to grasp and release. Further research is needed combining upper limb orthoses with task-specific training and measuring outcomes over the medium to long term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-16
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hand Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Orthoses
  • Pediatrics
  • Upper limb

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