$3M PCORI Grant to Support Study of Physical Therapy in Children with Cerebral Palsy

$3M PCORI Grant to Support Study of Physical Therapy in Children with Cerebral Palsy

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has awarded a $3 million grant to the Ohio State University (OSU) School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences to support a study comparing how different types of physical therapy might improve motor skills in children with cerebral palsy (CP).

The study, which is just getting underway, is called ACHIEVE (NCT02897024) and will compare the effectiveness of high intensity periodic therapy, versus weekly therapy, in children in an outpatient physical therapy setting. High intensity therapy will consist of two hours of focused therapy for five days for two weeks, followed by an 18-week break, then another cycle of two-hour intense therapy and rest period. Weekly therapy, one hour of therapy each week for 40 weeks, is considered the standard of care.

“Although physical therapy is different from taking a pill, you can think about this project as the ‘dosing’ of rehabilitation,” Jill Heathcock, PT, PhD, lead study investigator and an associate professor at the OSU School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said in a news release. “We know dosing every day and dosing once a week both work. The question is: Which works better for patients of different ages and with varying severity of symptoms?”

A prime study goal is improvements in motor function. “Children with cerebral palsy have a large range of motor skills,” Heathcock said. “Some walk independently; others have very little voluntary control and are dependent on a caregiver for assistance with everything. Sometimes, research projects exclude children with the most severe impairments. ACHIEVE includes all children with CP, so we can test the dose-response for children in all severity levels and ages from 2 through 8.”

Cognition, language, play and engagement will also be evaluated. ACHIEVE expects to start enrolling children, ages 2 to 8, shortly.

Heathcock and colleagues at Ohio State and Nationwide Children’s Hospital are also looking into the frequency of physical therapy in infants CP, in a study supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This trial, called DRIVE (NCT02857933), aims to determine the optimal frequency and intensity of physical therapy for patients 6 to 24 months of age. The study, taking place at Nationwide hospital in Columbus, is currently enrolling eligible infants.

“At the Infant Lab at OSU we consider independent movement to the best extent possible as a fundamental right,” Heathcock concluded. “My team of students, therapists and collaborators is dedicated to improving motor function and health of all infants and children with motor disabilities. The DRIVE and ACHIEVE projects are a next step in allowing children with CP the opportunity to show a burst in motor skill development, propelling them into a productive childhood of growth and play.”

For more information about the DRIVE and ACHIEVE studies, please write to Sarah Landry, research coordinator, at [email protected] or call her at 614-572-5446.