Research trials

Can playing action video games improve bimanual function in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy?

We are running a research study based at the Sir James Institute, RVI, Newcastle for children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy. The aim of the study is to see if regularly playing specially designed video games can increase skill in everyday tasks which require the use of 2 hands. The games use two hand-held controllers similar to the Nintendo Wii and have an exciting circus theme! An initial assessment will take place at the RVI, Newcastle, and the computer games, laptops and controllers are loaned for 3 months. The assessments will be repeated during this period to see what improvements are made. We need a further 20 children aged 7-15 years to take part who have a diagnosis of hemiplegic cerebral palsy predominantly affecting arm and hand function.

If you would like to find out more, please contact us:

Mrs Janice Pearse - Senior Research Occupational Therapist Tel. 0191 2825967 or 07794008985 or Email:

Miss Hannah Preston – Research Occupational Therapist Tel. 0191 2821381 or 07794009014 or Email:

Mrs Erin Baker – Research Occupational Therapist Tel. 0191 2821381 or 07794008997 or Email:

Or visit our websites: and

Information sheet for parents

Information for parents - Can playing action video games improve bimanual function in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy?

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Update on Play Therapy for Children with Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy Study

Reminder about the study:

We are running a play-based therapy study for children age 3-10 with hemiplegic cerebral palsy. We are based at the Sir James Institute, RVI, Newcastle. Our aim is to see if the play-based therapy will improve hand and arm function. Games and activities are provided, tailored to the young person’s interests and function based on the initial assessment. We teach the parents how to deliver the play therapy at home. This intervention lasts 3 months and we then repeat the assessments to see if there has been an improvement. We are still recruiting (around 50 already enrolled and taking part or completed, 20 more to recruit by December!).

To find out more you can:

-Visit our website at Here you can access our information sheet for parents.

-Get in touch by email or phone:

Dr Anna Basu (Academic Clinical Lecturer, Paediatric Neurology) ; 0191 2821375

Miss Emma Kirkpatrick (Research Associate, Institute of Neuroscience); 0191 2821369

We look forward to hearing from you!

Longitudinal study of the communication development of children with motor disorders.

This study is investigating if we can predict which children with cerebral palsy will have communication problems and how severe their difficulties will be. We see children at 2, 3 and 5 years of age. 120 children have now joined the study. We are now beginning to look at all the data collected when children were at 2 years of age, to examine if children with similar patterns of communication development are similar in other areas of their development (eg mobility, vision).

To read our newsletter click here.

For more information please contact:

Lindsay Pennington tel: 0191 282 1360

Therapy For Speech

We have been testing a therapy to help children with cerebral palsy speak more clearly. We have just finished study involving children who were 5-11 years of age and have sent reports to parents, teachers and therapists. We have also started to write papers for publication in health journals. We would like to test if we can deliver this therapy via the internet as well as face to face and will be bidding for more funding for the next phase of this research.

For more information please contact:

Lindsay Pennington tel: 0191 282 1360

Research into children’s reading and spelling

We are trying to find out if the type of motor disorder children have affects the consistency of their speech and whether this, in turn, has an impact on reading. We are working with children aged 7-17 who have speech difficulties as part of their cerebral palsy and who are more difficulties than expected in learning to read. In this study we do lots of assessments of reading and mental activities that help reading (eg spotting words that rhyme, breaking words down into their individual sounds) to find out where children are having problems. We write detailed reports for families and teachers to help with literacy teaching.

For more information please see our flyer OR contact:

Lindsay Pennington tel: 0191 282 1360


Deciding whether a child should have a gastrostomy is a big decision. We are very interested in finding out how parents and clinicians decide if children should have a gastrostomy and if we can make this process easier. We have done a small scale study, which showed we can't get very much information about how teams of parents and clinicians came to a decision about gastrostomy from children's medical notes, and that much more detailed information about decision making can be gathered from interviews.

For more information please contact:

Lindsay Pennington tel: 0191 282 1360


The SPARCLE 2 data are being analysed and two papers have been submitted to journals. Preliminary results have been sent to young people and families who took part. Pain continues to be of great significance; a new finding is that half of those receiving physiotherapy or other therapies experience significant pain. As in SPARCLE 1 quality of life seem to be broadly similar to that of the general population but there seem to be more variations between countries. When looking at how quality of life in childhood predicts quality of life in adolescence we have found: good quality of life in childhood is a strong predictor of quality of life in adolescence; factors in childhood that predict lower quality of life as an adolescent are pain in childhood, psychological problems in childhood and parenting stress in childhood - three factors all amenable to intervention.


The longigudinal study in the Programme of Research on Transition is now set up in terms of appointments and questionnaires etc. One group of young people in transition that we hope will be interested in the research is those with cerebral palsy. Over the coming months, we shall be approaching young people, identified from NECCPS.