Publicaties 2010

Action planning in typically and atypically developing children (unilateral cerebral palsy) 


In the present study, we investigated the development of action planning in children with unilateral Cerebral Palsy (CP, aged 3-6 years, n = 24) and an age matched control group. To investigate action planning, participants performed a sequential movement task. They had to grasp an object (a wooden play sword) and place the sword in a hole in a wooden block. Our main dependent variable was the grip type that participants used, i.e., did they adapt their initial grip choice such that they would reach a comfortable posture at the end of the action? This end-state comfort effect has been abundantly shown in research on action planning, and is taken as evidence for anticipatory planning. The first aim of the study was to investigate the development of action planning in the unilateral CP group and the control group. Our hypothesis was that action planning improves with age in the control group, but not in the unilateral CP group. The results showed that planning was impaired in the unilateral CP group compared with the control group. Consistent with our hypothesis, we found an age effect in the control group, but not in the unilateral CP group. In the control group 5 and 6 years olds showed more anticipatory planning compared with the 3 and 4 years olds. The second aim of this study was to examine whether an intervention for children with unilateral CP (i.e., constrained induced movement therapy combined with bimanual training) affected action planning. The children with unilateral CP were therefore measured on the experimental task before and after an 8-week intervention period. The results showed that planning improved after the intervention. This finding suggests that action planning ability in young children with unilateral CP may be sensitive to improvement. These findings are discussed within the context of typical and atypical development of action planning and further guidelines for intervention in children with unilateral CP are given.