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New Reseach Clinic Studies Children with Cerebral Palsy

The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke is now home to a neuromotor research clinic for children suffering from cerebral palsy and other brain injuries. 

Ten thousand children will be born this year with cerebral palsy, which is generally caused by abnormal brain development.  Researchers at the Neuromotor Research Clinic hope to restore function to the brain or at least help improve body control, movement, and posture.  Researchers have received a $4.3 million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health to compare several forms of inducted movement therapy in children ages two to eight..  Sharon Ramey is the Clinic Director.

“The ACQUIREc therapy was adapted from a new therapy developed for what were called “chronic stroke patients.”

They determined children ignore their weaker side so to make it stronger, therapists put a cast on the child’s “good” arm.  It looks to an outsider like he broke his arm, but Jack Goldberg from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada says the brightly colored cast on his left arm makes him think.

“With the cast on, I remember lots of things.  And then when the cast comes off, I don’t remember instantly and I start using my left hand more than my right hand.” 

The children receive therapy six to seven hours a day, five days a week, for three or four weeks.  Jack and his mother, Whitney Fox, travel to Roanoke for his therapy, which is conducted using the real-world setting of where they’re staying in town, rather than in the clinic.

“We’re just so grateful that the therapy exists, that frankly, I would fly around the world to get it.  It’s that effective.  It’s been life changing for my son.”

The researchers will collaborate with colleagues and study sites at the University of Virginia and Ohio State University and they hope to receive another grant which will allow them to extend their research to babies next year.