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Transcranial direct current stimulation to improve motor function in children with cerebral palsy: a pilot study

Trial Status: Open
Date Open to Recruitment: 28 July 2021
Planned Recruitment End Date: 31 May 2023

Cerebral Palsy is the most common cause of childhood physical disability. Many children with cerebral palsy experience lifelong difficulties with their movement, affecting their ability to engage with daily activities. Transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) is a safe, painless and non-invasive type of brain stimulation which has the potential to increase the ability of the brain to adapt, and could be effective at improving movement and function when combined with therapy. However, no one has combined TDCS with therapy involving both the arm and the leg, even though many people with CP experience difficulties with both of these limbs.

This study aims to assess whether ten sessions of TDCS over two weeks could be effective at improving movement and function when combined with therapy tasks for the arm and leg that are repetitive, functional and relevant. Specifically, we aim to 1) assess how large the potential improvement in function is in order to plan future large-scale clinical trials, 2) use brain scanning to explore who is most likely to benefit from the TDCS. Half the participants will receive real TDCS, and half will receive sham/placebo. All participants in the study will receive ten, 90-minute sessions of therapy. It is anticipated that the results of this study will guide the development of future large-scale clinical trials which could benefit a higher number of people with CP.