Cognition and bimanual performance in children with unilateral cerebral palsy: Protocol for a multicentre, cross-sectional study
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© 2018 The Author(s). Background: Motor outcomes of children with unilateral cerebral palsy are clearly documented and well understood, yet few studies describe the cognitive functioning in this population, and the associations between the two is poorly understood. Using two hands together in daily life involves complex motor and cognitive processes. Impairment in either domain may contribute to difficulties with bimanual performance. Research is yet to derive whether, and how, cognition affects a child's ability to use their two hands to perform bimanual tasks. Methods/Design: This study will use a prospective, cross-sectional multi-centre observational design. Children (aged 6-12 years) with unilateral cerebral palsy will be recruited from one of five Australian treatment centres. We will examine associations between cognition, bimanual performance and brain neuropathology (lesion type and severity) in a sample of 131 children. The primary outcomes are: Motor - the Assisting Hand Assessment; Cognitive - Executive Function; and Brain - lesion location on structural MRI. Secondary data collected will include: Motor - Box and Blocks, ABILHAND- Kids, Sword Test; Cognitive - standard neuropsychological measures of intelligence. We will use generalized linear modelling and structural equation modelling techniques to investigate relationships between bimanual performance, executive function and brain lesion location. Discussion: This large multi-centre study will examine how cognition affects bimanual performance in children with unilateral cerebral palsy. First, it is anticipated that distinct relationships between bimanual performance and cognition (executive function) will be identified. Second, it is anticipated that interrelationships between bimanual performance and cognition will be associated with common underlying neuropathology. Findings have the potential to improve the specificity of existing upper limb interventions by providing more targeted treatments and influence the development of novel methods to improve both cognitive and motor outcomes in children with unilateral cerebral palsy.
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