Intervention and the role of theory, empiricism and experience in children with motor impairment

Disabil Rehabil. 2007 Jan 15;29(1):3-11. doi: 10.1080/09638280600947542.


Purpose: This paper presents a framework for examining the different approaches to intervention in children with motor impairment such that more informed decisions are made by researchers and clinicians in their respective fields.

Method: Studies are examined using a framework employing theoretical, empirical and experiential evidence. A range of interventions are analysed and are applied to the conditions of cerebral palsy and developmental coordination disorder. The theoretical, empirical and experiential evidence is analysed by an examination of such methods as constraint induced therapy, Bobath techniques, bimanual coordination methods, sensory integration therapy and functional task approaches, all set within a development and learning context.

Results: The results show that evidence from the three parts of the framework, namely theoretical, empirical and experiential are often in conflict with each other and it is not surprising that there is confusion in the field about the efficacy of the various methods.

Conclusions: First, it is recommended that more complete information is required on the methods employed from the three areas of our framework. Secondly, researchers, clinicians and other practitioners should examine the evidence from these three areas and align it to the needs of their research or practice before embarking on action.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Motor Skills Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Physical Therapy Modalities