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Camp Helping Hands is based on the evidence of research involving constraint-induced (CI) movement therapy for children with Cerebral Palsy and adults who have had a stroke. CI therapy is a group of therapies designed to restrain the use of the unaffected upper extremity and encourage the use of the affected upper extremity through practice. A removable soft-cast with straps is custom made for each child for the unaffected upper extremity.
Prevalent in the literature is a concept called shaping. Taub and Wolf (1997), define shaping as a technique where the desired motor objective is approached in small steps. Improvement required for successful performance at each step is always small. Wolf and Taub (1997) indicate that this shaping technique appeared to bridge the gap between movement in a training session and learned acquisition of a motor skill.
CI therapy is based on a model for development of learned nonuse in adults. Immediately after a stroke or injury there are unsuccessful motor attempts by the patient to use the affected limb. Due to pain, failure, or lack of coordination, compensatory movements and behavior patterns are positively reinforced. A person "learns" to not use their affected hand.
Charles, et al (2001) suggest that children with CP may also experience learned nonuse of the affected extremity due to the inefficient movement patterns of the involved upper extremity. They continue that increased central nervous system plasticity that is present in children could be the basis for rehabilitation.
The primary goals of the camp are two-fold: to increase functional use of the hemiplegic upper extremity and to use BOTH hands together better.