Transcranial direct current stimulation to improve motor function in children with cerebral palsy: A pilot study
Cerebral Palsy is the most common cause of childhood physical disability. Many children with cerebral palsy experience lifelong difficulties with their movement, affecting their ability to engage with daily activities. Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is a safe, painless and non-invasive type of brain stimulation. It has the potential to increase the ability of the brain to adapt, and could be effective at improving movement and function when combined with therapy. However, no one has combined tDCS with therapy involving both the arm and the leg, even though many people with CP experience difficulties with both of these limbs.
This study aims to assess whether ten sessions of tDCS over two weeks could be effective at improving movement and function when combined with therapy tasks for the arm and leg that are repetitive, functional and relevant. Specifically, we aim to assess how large the potential improvement in function is in order to plan future large-scale clinical trials and use brain scanning to explore who is most likely to benefit from the tDCS.
Our research methods
We will recruit 30 Young People with Cerebral Palsy (YPwCP) aged 10-16 years old from paediatric orthopedic clinics, multidisciplinary CP clinics, clinic records and via community outreach i.e. community therapists and schools. Each YPwCP will be randomly allocated to either an intervention group or a SHAM/control group. Those in the intervention group will receive Anodal tDCS for the first 20 minutes of the session in addition to upper and lower limb training. Each session will last for 90 minutes with a total of 10 sessions over a 2 week period. Patients will undergo baseline assessments of motor function which will be repeated at 1 week, 6 weeks and 3 months post intervention to see if there are any changes.
This project is exploring a potential new area of therapeutics in the treatment of cerebral palsy which may lead to some improvement in movement and motor function in Young People with Cerebral Palsy. With further research this intervention may provide a new clinical treatment pathway in the future.
Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project
Related Research Group(s)
Health and Wellbeing Across the Lifecourse - Inequalities in health and wellbeing in the UK and internationally; welfare, health and wellbeing; ageing studies; health economics.
Partnering with confidence
Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.
Project last modified 10/03/2022