Faculty create intervention program for children with unilateral cerebral palsy

TWU Therapy Together

By Katherine Dubberly

TWU School of Occupational Therapy Assistant Professors Heather Roberts, PhD, OT, and Angela Shierk, PhD, OTR, collaborated with Scottish Rite for Children in Dallas this spring to complete a feasibility study of Therapy Together, an intervention program developed for infants and young children with unilateral cerebral palsy. In Therapy Together, children and their caregivers attended weekly group sessions. Interventionists taught caregivers therapeutic activities for the home to improve their children’s affected hand function, functional cognition and school-readiness skills. The program combined cognitive training with constraint-induced movement therapy, in which a child’s unaffected hand is constrained with a soft glove to promote use of the affected hand. Despite complications due to the COVID pandemic, Shriek and Roberts completed the study by giving families the option of attending sessions virtually.

Tarryn Diaz, second-year MOT student and graduate research assistant who worked on the research team, had previously taken the elective Issues in Adaptation Pediatric Neuroscience: Principles and Interventions for Children with Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy through the School of Occupational Therapy. As a member of the research team, she created activities that focused both on cognitive and motor aspects that were engaging for the participants. When the pandemic began, the research team shifted from group interventions to one-on-one and virtual sessions.

Litta Untung, first-year entry-level OTD student, had the opportunity to observe the program. Untung commented that she loved seeing how the therapy team modified each activity to best fit the needs and interests of each child. She observed how to work with children with varied levels of initial engagement and how a little more encouragement from the therapy team or parent/caregiver increased participation. Untung noticed the majority of the children were totally engaged and didn’t have any issues wearing the constraint. She appreciated the opportunity to “learn by doing” and seeing how fun activities were utilized therapeutically through play to accomplish a therapeutic goal.

The Therapy Together research program is an extension to the camp-based augmented constraint induced movement therapy intervention for children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy ages 5-12 years Roberts and Shierk help facilitate at Scottish Rite for Children in Dallas in collaboration with TWU. Through their research, they developed a camp based augmented CIMT guide that includes evidence-based components, assessment protocol and information on training interventions.

Therapy Together Caregiver Manuals
Camp Based Augmented CIMT Guide

Page last updated 2:52 PM, April 28, 2021