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Does Corticospinal Tract Connectivity Influence the Response to Intensive Bimanual Therapy in Children With Unilateral Cerebral Palsy?

Journal Article
Smorenburg AR, Gordon AM, Kuo HC, Ferre CL, Brandao M, Bleyenheuft Y, Carmel JB, Friel KM.
Year Published: 
Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2017 Mar;31(3):250-260. doi: 10.1177/1545968316675427. Epub 2016 Nov 17.
PMID: 27856938
Abstract on PubMed



Reorganization of the corticospinal tract (CST) can occur in unilateral spastic cerebral palsy (USCP). The affected hand can be controlled via (1) typical contralateral projections from the lesioned hemisphere, (2) ipsilateral projections from the nonlesioned hemisphere, and (3) a combination of contralateral and ipsilateral projections (ie, bilateral). Intensive bimanual therapy and constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) improve hand function of children with USCP. Earlier it was suggested that the CST connectivity pattern may influence the efficacy of CIMT.


To examine whether CST projection pattern influences the efficacy of intensive bimanual therapy in children with USCP.


Thirty-three children with USCP (age 8.9 ± 2.6 years, 16 females).


Bimanual therapy was provided in a day-camp setting (90 hours). Participants were involved in different bimanual play and functional activities actively engaging both hands. Hand function was tested before and after the intervention with the Jebsen-Taylor Test of Hand Function, Assisting Hand Assessment, ABILHAND-Kids, and the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure. Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was used to determine each child's CST projection pattern (ie, ipsilateral, contralateral, or bilateral).


Children whose affected hand was controlled only by ipsilateral CST projections had worse Jebsen-Taylor Test of Hand Function and Assisting Hand Assessment scores than children in the contralateral group at baseline. Bimanual hand use and functional hand use was independent of CST projection pattern. After bimanual therapy, improvements on all outcome measures were observed, and these improvements were independent of the CST connectivity pattern.


The efficacy of bimanual therapy on hand function in children with USCP appears to be independent of CST connectivity pattern.


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