Unimanual versus bimanual therapy in children with unilateral cerebral palsy: Same, same, but different

Brian Hoare, Susan Greaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


BACKGROUND: There is high-level evidence supporting constraint-induced movement therapy (Cl MT) and bimanual therapy for children with unilateral cerebral palsy. Evidence-based intervention includes time-limited, goal-directed, skills-based, intensive blocks of practice based on motor learning theory.
AIM AND METHODS: Using supporting literature and clinical insight, we provide a theoretical rationale to highlight previously unreported differences between CIMT and bimanual therapy.
DISCUSSION: The current emphasis on total dosage of practice for achieving positive outcomes fails to recognise the influence of other critical concepts within motor learning. Limitations exist in the application of motor learning principles using CIMT due to its unimanual nature. C!MT is effective for development of unimanual actions brought about by implicit learning, however it
is difficult to target explicit learning that is required for learning how to use two hands together. Using bimanual therapy, object properties can be adapted lo trigger goal-related perceptual and cognitive processes required for children to learn to recognise when two hands are required for task completion.
CONCLUSION: C[MT and bimanual should be viewed as complementa1y. CIMT could be used to target unimanual actions. Once these actions are established, bimanual therapy could be used for children to learn how to use these actions for bimanual skill development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine: an interdisciplinary approach
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Cerebral palsy
  • constraint-induced movement therapy
  • bimanual therapy
  • motor learning theory

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