About Constraint Therapy

GirlThe constraint therapy program is an intense therapy model for children who have difficulty using one arm. The program is designed around the evidence-based theory that a child's developing brain has the ability to create new pathways to enable a child to develop new skills.

Who is it for?

The constraint therapy program is appropriate for children who have a one-sided weakness from a neurological impairment such as cerebral palsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, hemispherectomy and ateriovenous malformation. Children with additional diagnoses may still be appropriate for the full program. The therapists conducting the therapy sessions have experience treating children with a wide variety of diagnoses.

Children with severe impairment in both arms will likely not benefit from the program, as it would be difficult to determine which arm is more functional. Children with severe cognitive limitations, severe autism, and/or sensory processing limitation that interfere with the child's abilities to interact and communicate with other individuals or their environment may not be appropriate candidates for the program.

Each child's skills, abilities, and diagnoses will be assessed for appropriateness to enroll in the program. All children are screened to determine if they are appropriate candidates for the program. If unable to be screened in person due to distance from our outpatient clinic, you will be asked to send a video of the child prior to acceptance to ensure your child is appropriate for the constraint therapy program.

How does it work?

Constraint therapy involves casting (from finger tips to shoulder, worn 24 hours a day) of the stronger arm in order to promote improved strength and function of the weaker arm. The child's family is encouraged to participate during the therapy sessions and is educated on ways to continue to facilitate use of the weaker arm outside of the therapy sessions.

What are the benefits?

The anticipated benefits include evidence that your child will improve in use of the weaker (unrestrained) arm and hand. In addition, your child will benefit from the therapy sessions, and enjoy the play and therapy activities. Your child is likely to experience a sense of accomplishment during each session, even though she/he is not able to use the unrestrained arm or hand independently, since the tasks are set up so that your child will succeed in most attempts she/he makes with the weaker arm.

It is important to note that the outcomes of this therapy model vary from child to child.