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Background: The multiplicity of interventions for the treatment of cerebral palsy (CP) can cause confusion about which are most suited to certain individuals. Hypothesis is that goal-directed therapy (GDT) can guide integrating therapies to improve clinical outcomes compared with conventional therapy (CT).
Method: A prospective, assessor-blinded, randomized controlled trial was done with 23 children with CP (mean age, 4 years 4 months old; SD 1y4mo), who were divided into groups according to their level of gross motor function: GDT and CT. Both groups received 12 physiotherapy (PT) sessions and advice on daily home programs. The GDT group additionally had a team meeting to set a specific goal, and PT programs were shaped toward that goal. Assessments were done at baseline and after treatments, using the Thai-version Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM-66), CP-Quality of Life (CP-QOL), caregiver burden, and home program compliance.
Results: After the treatments, the GDT group showed significant improvements in GMFM-66, CP-QOL, and caregiver burden, while the CT group revealed improvements in caregiver burden and some domains of the GMFM, including sitting and crawling & kneeling. Comparisons between groups found GDT was more effective than CT in improving GMFM-66 and CP-QOL. Home program compliance was higher in the GDT (69%) than the CT group (42%).
Conclusion: GDT demonstrated clear gains for children with CP regarding gross motor function and QOL improvements. Team communication toward a customized goal was crucial, empowering the children and their caregivers to comply with home programs to achieve the set goal.
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