Effectiveness of constraint-induced movement therapy on upper-extremity function in children with cerebral palsy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Clin Rehabil. 2014 Oct;28(10):939-53. doi: 10.1177/0269215514544982. Epub 2014 Aug 14.


Objective: To systematically examine the research literature on the effectiveness of constraint-induced movement therapy on improving arm function in children with cerebral palsy, and to assess the association between the study effect size and the characteristics of the patients and intervention protocol.

Data sources: A systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed, PsycINFO, Cochrane, CINAHL, Web of Science, and TRIP Database up to May 2014.

Review methods: Studies employing randomized controlled trial design, children with cerebral palsy, comparing constraint-induced movement therapy with another intervention with a focus on arm function, and upper-extremity measures were included in this review. Methodological quality was evaluated using the Physiotherapy Evidence-based Database (PEDro) scale.

Results: The literature search resulted in 27 randomized controlled trial studies with good methodological quality that compared constraint-induced movement therapy with other intervention therapy. Overall, constraint-induced movement therapy provided a medium beneficial effect (d = 0.546; p < 0.001) when compared with conventional therapy. For the subgroup analyses, presence of a dose-equivalent comparison group, intervention location, and time of follow-up were significant factors. Studies examining constraint-induced movement therapy effect without a dose-equivalent comparison group showed a large effect in children with cerebral palsy, but studies with a dose-equivalent group only showed a small effect. Children who received home-based constraint-induced movement therapy had a better improvement in arm function than those who received constraint-induced movement therapy elsewhere.

Conclusion: The research literature supports constraint-induced movement therapy as an effective intervention to improve arm function in children with cerebral palsy.

Keywords: Cerebral palsy; constraint-induced movement therapy; meta-analysis; systematic review; upper extremity (arm).

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Hemiplegia / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Restraint, Physical / methods*
  • Upper Extremity / physiopathology*