Parents' perspectives on occupational therapy and physical therapy goals for children with cerebral palsy

Disabil Rehabil. 2010;32(3):248-58. doi: 10.3109/09638280903095890.


Contemporary rehabilitation literature emphasises functional goals for children with disabilities and use of a collaborative goal-setting process grounded in principles of family centred service delivery.

Purpose: To explore parents' experiences with goals and goal setting.

Method: We conducted a qualitative study with 11 focus groups and two individual interviews with 39 parents of children with cerebral palsy living in western Canada. We used an inductive, thematic analysis to identify prominent themes.

Results: The analysis revealed five themes representing goals that were meaningful to parents and provided insight into parents' experiences with goal-setting processes in occupational and physical therapy: (1) movement as the means to functional success; (2) physical health and fitness are important therapy goals; (3) the importance of leading happy, fulfilling lives and being accepted by others; (4) 'We can't do it all': balancing therapy with the demands of everyday life; and (5) shifting roles and responsibilities in goal setting.

Conclusions: The variability noted both in parents' desired role in goal setting and in goals important to parents highlights the importance of establishing trusting relationships with families so that family goals, values, individual circumstances, and desired level of participation in goal setting can be openly discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Disabled Children / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*