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Benefit Suggested for Earlier Interventions in Infants With Cerebral Palsy

THURSDAY, April 8, 2021 -- Data of limited quantity and quality suggest benefit from early interventions for infants with or at risk for cerebral palsy, according to research published online April 7 in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.

Diane L. Damiano, P.T., Ph.D., of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and Edgar Longo, P.T., Ph.D., from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Santa Cruz, Brazil, conducted an overview of systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on early motor interventions in infants aged 0 to 3 years with or at risk for cerebral palsy. Data were included from three systematic reviews encompassing 46 studies, 16 with comparison groups, and six additional RCTs.

The researchers observed medium effect sizes on motor development for two enrichment- and activity-based approaches, one of which had a low risk for bias. Large task-specific effect sizes were seen in two others, but there were some bias concerns. Medium effect sizes were seen on cognitive development in three enriched environment studies, with some bias concerns. Most of the studies had small or no effect sizes, concerns of bias, and uncertain diagnostic determinations.

"With earlier identification now possible, our new imperative is to translate neuroscience evidence on early brain recovery in animals into transforming developmental motor outcomes in children with cerebral palsy," Damiano said in a statement.

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