Family-centred functional therapy

The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate a family-centred functional therapy approach to improving motor function in 18-month to 4-year old children with cerebral palsy. The therapy program included identification of constraints within the person, environment, or activity and therapy intervention aimed to change these constraints and enable function.

Children with cerebral palsy typically receive ongoing occupational therapy and physiotherapy to facilitate motor development and enhance independent movement, self care, play and leisure. Emerging concepts of motor development and family-centred service have been proposed as a more appropriate basis for therapeutic intervention for young children with cerebral palsy.

Findings indicate that the family-centred functional approach to therapy has the potential to facilitate change in the motor performance of these children. These results will be used to further develop the family-centred functional approach to therapy intervention.

To read more on this topic, please refer to:

Law, M., Darrah, J., Pollock, N., King, G., Rosenbaum, P., Russell, D., Palisano, R., Harris, S., Armstrong, R., & Watt, J. (1998). Family-centred functional therapy for children with cerebral palsy: An emerging practice model. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 18, 83-102.

Research Team


  • A new framework for the delivery of occupational therapy and physical therapy services has been developed
  • The new treatment approach aims to maximize the function of these children in completing tasks which are important to them and their family
  • Initial testing indicates that children receiving this treatment made substantial changes in motor function

Funding Agency

United Cerebral Palsy Association - $35,805 (1994-1995)