Background: Conductive education (CE) is a holistic educational system that uses an active cognitive approach to teach individuals with motor disorders to become more functional participants in daily activities. While CE's popularity continues to grow in North America and Europe, its effectiveness has not been established. The lack of definition of responsive outcome measures for evaluation of CE programmes has limited the interpretability of conclusions from earlier studies evaluating effectiveness.
Objective: To determine which measures from a core set were most responsive to physical, functional and psychosocial changes associated with a school-based CE programme.
Methods: This was a one-group before and after data collection design using an 8-month follow-up period. We enrolled a referral sample of nine children with cerebral palsy in Kindergarten or Grade 1 (Gross Motor Function Classification System levels 3, 4 or 5). The study took place within a school-based CE programme at a Canadian children's rehabilitation centre. Children participated in a CE full-day class for an entire school year. Physical, functional, psychosocial and participation measures included: Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM), Quality of Upper Extremity Skills Test (QUEST), Peabody Developmental Motor Scales, Paediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI), Pictorial Scale of Perceived Competence and Social Acceptance for Young Children, Individualized Educational Plan, and Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS). Four children from the study's second year were also evaluated on the Impact on Family Scale (IFS), GAS and School Function Assessment.
Results: The Gross Motor Function Measure, QUEST, PEDI (Caregiver Assistance) and IFS were most responsive to change. GAS was useful in documenting and quantifying goals. Problems were encountered in evaluating self-esteem and school participation.
Conclusions: Several strong measures of outcome were identified. Further work is needed to find valid and sensitive psychosocial and school participation measures for these young children.