Physiotherapists are often asked by parents “Would more physiotherapy sessions improve my child’s abilities?”
Research results indicate that short bursts of therapy, focusing on specific, measurable goals, produce better results than ongoing therapy with general aims. It is also evident that many functional skills can only be maintained outside of therapy by regular practice at home and in other environments.
Researchers found that increasing the intensity of physiotherapy for a short period (two to four weeks) leads to better outcomes for children with cerebral palsy.
However, they also concluded that therapy over a longer period (six months) did not necessarily lead to improved results. Research indicated that children (and parents) complained that over the six-month period the therapy was tiring and stressful, and compliance with the program was slow.
Researchers concluded that what children do at home with their parents (and at school) is just as important as how much therapy they receive.
A child can maintain/improve the skills gained during therapy if the skills are practiced regularly during their daily life. Making exercises as functional as possible will make it easier for them to be incorporated into daily life.
Another important finding from these studies is that setting specific measurable goals produces greater changes in motor function than setting general aims. For example, a general aim such as “improve standing ability” can be changed to “stand upright for 1 minute without holding on.”
Many cerebral palsy associations have changed their model of service to offer short bursts of therapy sessions focusing on specific functional goals, rather than providing ongoing therapy.