The effects of knowledge of performance and cognitive strategies on motor skill learning in children with cerebral palsy

Pediatr Phys Ther. Spring 2002;14(1):2-15.


Purpose: The purpose of this research was to examine the effects of presenting augmented information to children with cerebral palsy during practice of a novel motor skill.

Methods: Single-subject designs with nonconcurrent baselines were used to study improvements in performance. Thirteen children with cerebral palsy were randomly assigned to one of three practice protocols and performed 36 ten-second trials to learn to move a Pedalo, a therapeutic exercise vehicle, backward. Each protocol involved a variable mix of practice under the following conditions: no augmented information, knowledge of performance, and knowledge of performance enhanced by a cognitive strategy. Performance was measured by changes in backward displacement (cm) of the Pedalo across trials.

Results: All 13 subjects demonstrated improvement in performance across phases. However, only eight subjects (62%) demonstrated a significant improvement in performance when the baseline and retention phases were compared. Of these eight subjects, one demonstrated significant improvement in performance with practice alone, two when provided with knowledge of performance, and five when provided with knowledge of performance and a cognitive strategy.

Conclusions: This study suggests that children with cerebral palsy benefit greatly from practice of motor tasks and that some of these children may benefit from the use of cognitive strategies to enhance the role of knowledge of performance during practice of motor skills. However, sufficient time is required to successfully integrate the feedback into performance.