Childhood hemiplegia (also known as hemiparesis) is caused by damage to part of the brain as a result of injury or illness causing weakness and impaired motor function to one side of the body. When hemiplegia happens before, during or soon after birth it is known as Congenital hemiplegia.
Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) can be used to help children with hemiplegia move their affected arm and hand. The unaffected arm will be constrained to encourage the child to use their more involved or affected arm during therapy and activities. The physiotherapist will then break down a motor activity into small steps and then encourage the child to repeat the movement. The task will then be made more difficult over a period of time as their arm function improves. The family and the child may also be encouraged to use this approach at home to further encourage the child to use their unaffected arm during routine daily activities and functional tasks.
The theory behind this approach is that brain grows new neural pathways by carrying out repetitive movements with the affected arm. They can then use these neural pathways to move the arm when they are not having CIMT as the brains of young children are more plastic and have more capability than adults for cortical reorganization (Johnston, 2001). This is called cortical reorganization or neuroplasticity.
Do you think CIMT could benefit your child? Our highly specialist paediatric physios are available to see your child at home and we can often arrange the first appointment within 24 hours. Contact us today on 0207 884 0374 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.