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Development of hand–arm bimanual intensive training (HABIT) for improving bimanual coordination in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy

  • Jeanne Charles (a1) and Andrew M Gordon (a2)

Constraint-induced (CI) movement therapy is a physical intervention that has been receiving increasing attention in pediatric rehabilitation. So far, the evidence suggests that practice associated with CI therapy may improve impaired unimanual hand function in some children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy (CP). However, CI therapy has several important limitations. Most importantly, children with hemiplegia have impairments in bimanual coordination beyond their unilateral impairments. Thus, an intervention approach to increase functional independence during activities of daily living by using both hands in cooperation is needed. Here we briefly review the etiology of hemiplegic CP, describe studies of pediatric CI therapy efficacy in relation to the etiology, discuss the conceptual and practical limitations of CI therapy for this population, and describe bimanual coordination impairments in children with hemiplegia. Finally, we introduce a new intervention for children with hemiplegia, hand–arm bimanual intensive training (HABIT), to address the limitations of CI therapy and to improve bimanual coordination. HABIT retains the two major elements of pediatric CI therapy (intensive structured practice and child-friendliness). The proposed methodology demonstrates that extensive targeted practice can be provided in a child-friendly manner without using a physical restraint, although the efficacy of such an approach remains to be determined.

Corresponding author
Department of Biobehavioral Sciences, Box 199, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027, USA. E-mail:
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Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology
  • ISSN: 0012-1622
  • EISSN: 1469-8749
  • URL: /core/journals/developmental-medicine-and-child-neurology
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