Chen (2021) Combined effect of hydrotherapy and transcranial direct-current stimulation on children with cerebral palsy

Background: Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by a brain injury resulting in poor coordination and motor control deficits, which is one of the most common physical disabilities in children. CP brings a heavy burden on families and society and becomes a significant public health issue. In recent years, hydrotherapy, and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) as a physical therapy for CP is developing rapidly. When hydrotherapy and tDCS are used to treat separately, it has positive therapeutic effect in children with CP. The development of new therapies in combination with physical rehabilitation approaches is critical to optimize functional outcomes. tDCS has attracted interest in this context, because of significant functional improvements have been demonstrated in individuals with brain injuries after a short period of cerebral stimulation. Since the onset of this work, tDCS has been used in combination with constraint-induced therapy, virtual reality therapy to potentiate the treatment effect. Up to now, there are no studies on the effect of a combined application of hydrotherapy and tDCS in children with CP. We will conduct a 2-arm parallel clinical trial to investigate the effect of a combined application of tDCS and hydrotherapy.
Methods and analysis: This study is an outcome assessor and data analyst-blinded, randomized, controlled superiority trial during the period from October 2021 to December 2023. CP patients meeting the inclusion criteria will be allocated in a 1:1 ratio into the treatment group (hydrotherapy plus tDCS), or the control group (treatment as usual). All participants will receive 30 sessions of treatment over 10weeks. The primary outcomes will be the difference in the Gross Motor Function Assessment and Pediatric Balance Scale during rest and activity. The secondary outcomes will be the difference in adverse effects between the control and treatment groups.

Conclusions: This study aims to estimate the efficacy of a combined application of tDCS and hydrotherapy in patients with CP.

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