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European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2016 October;52(5):672-81


lingua: Inglese

Can new technologies improve upper limb performance in grown-up diplegic children?

Anna C. TURCONI 1, Emilia BIFFI 1, Cristina MAGHINI 1, Elisabetta PERI 1, 2, Fernanda SERVODIO IAMMARONE 1, 3, Chiara GAGLIARDI 1

1 Eugenio Medea Institute for Scientific Research, Bosisio Parini, Lecco, Italy; 2 Laboratory of Neuroengineering and Medical Robotics (NEARLab), Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering (DEIB), Polytechnic University of Milan, Milan, Italy; 3 Multispecialistic Rehabilitation Unit, Santobono-Pausilipon Hospital, Naples, Italy


BACKGROUND: Few systematic studies describe rehabilitation trainings for upper limb in diplegic children with cerebral palsy (CP), who — especially once grown up — are often not considered as a target for rehabilitation interventions.
AIM: In this pilot study, we describe the details and the effectiveness of an intensive, technology assisted intervention for upper limb.
SETTING: The treatment combines the utilization of Armeo® Spring with a training focused on hand/finger fluency and dexterity in a pre-post treatment experimental design.
POPULATION: Participants were ten school-aged children (mean age 11.2) with bilateral CP and diplegia, attending mainstream schools.
METHODS: Participants underwent 40 therapy sessions in four weeks. Armeo® Spring measures, standardized motor and perceptual outcome indexes, as well as everyday life indicators were utilized to assess the effect of the intervention.
RESULTS: Upper limb coordination, fluency and quality of movements mainly of hands and fingers significantly improved, with a good transferability to everyday life also in areas not specifically trained, such as self-care abilities and mobility. Probably due to the visual feedback provided by the virtual reality setting (which was all in one the context, the incentive and the product of activities), perceptual abilities significantly improved, too.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study suggests the importance of intervention on upper limb even in milder CP diplegic forms and in relatively grown-up children. The possibility of modification at least partially relies on learning processes that are active all along development and benefit from stimulation.
CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: Though further studies with control groups and follow-up perspective are needed to confirm, new technologies offer interesting possibilities to be integrated into new evidence-based rehabilitation models.

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