Publicaties 2011

Typical and atypical (cerebral palsy) development of unimanual and bimanual grasp planning


In the present study we tested 13 children with cerebral palsy (CP) and 24 typically developing children (7-12 years old) in a unimanual and bimanual motor planning task. We focused on two research questions: (1) How does motor planning develop in children with and without CP? and (2) Is motor planning facilitated when the task is performed with both hands? Participants had to grasp one or two vertical oriented cylinder(s) and transport it/them to a platform that had different heights. As a measure of motor planning, we registered the height at which participants grasped the cylinder. Here, anticipation of grasp height upon the height of the upcoming target(s) is reflective of proper forward motor planning as it leads to a comfortable posture at the end of the task. In the unimanual task the typically developing children showed a significant grasp height effect, which increased with age. In contrast, no grasp height effect, or age related changes therein were found for the children with CP, suggesting a compromised development of motor planning in these children. Interestingly, when children had to transport one cylinder to a high shelf and one cylinder to a low shelf, the more affected hand of the CP children clearly anticipated the grasp height to the upcoming target height. The less affected hand did not show such anticipation. Taken collectively, these findings suggest a delayed or compromised development of motor planning in children with CP compared to typically developing children. At the same time, the facilitated motor planning of the more affected arm in the bimanual task offers a valuable entry point for intervention to improve motor planning in CP.