Helping children with cerebral palsy

CaSe STudy

Cerebral Palsy Alliance is optimistic about the future of technology in preventing and improving quality of life for people living with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF) have good reason to be optimistic about the future that technology will make possible in preventing cerebral palsy (CP) and improving quality of life for people living with cerebral palsy. Hearts and Minds Investments continues to partner with CPARF on this important area of research. One such project is SCiP, which looks at the feasibility and acceptability of a spinal neuromodulation device used during rehabilitation sessions to help children with cerebral palsy to have better control of their muscles and limbs.

CP imposes a severe physical, emotional and economic burden on individuals, families and the communities where they live. The cost associated with caring for a person with CP in Australia is estimated at $145,642 each year, and cerebral palsy costs Australians $5.2 billion per year, every year.

The positive economic and social impacts of the SCiP device could be significant in terms of the way individuals with CP will be able to live their lives.

SciP is a novel, patented neuromodulation technology that acts to amplify neural signals to help a child better control leg, arm, trunk, bowel and bladder muscle movement. The clinical trial of this non-invasive therapy will advance knowledge across a multidisciplinary team and has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of children living with CP in Australia. Testing has already taken place in the USA and now the SCiP device is being tested in Australia to target the abnormal connectivity between brain and spinal cord, thereby treating the root causes of CP.

This research aims to understand if the SCiP device is a feasible and acceptable intervention for children with CP who have moderate motor impairment. The research is being conducted in Australia with children aged 5 - 12 years. The research team is conducting a pilot randomised controlled trial of the SCiP clinical device used during therapy. The study is being conducted with children with CP GMFCS Levels III-IV who have a spastic or mixed type of CP.  A range of tests measuring if a child reaches their goals, their ability to move, walk and balance; muscle tightness; quality of life, ability to do daily tasks and their experience of pain, are being used.

Client Spotlight

‘Our experience with SCiP has been a true game-changer for our child Bennett, who has spastic quadriplegia, and is five years of age’ note Bennett’s parents following his involvement in the trial.
‘His gait has become stronger and he is now putting his heels down more than prior to the trial. He’s able to sit up with a stronger core and with more head control. He’s looking around and making more eye contact as well as observing things around him. He has also started to roll when on his stomach which is a big development for Bennett. He also seems much happier.’

Innovative Future  

Extensive testing in the USA has already proven that consistent, ongoing non-invasive spinal cord neuromodulation results in demonstrable improvement of sensorimotor function in children with cerebral palsy. We are now testing this in Australia to ensure Australian standards are met, with the goal that this technology will be used more broadly for children with CP, ensuring brighter futures for these individuals.