Physical rehabilitation interventions in children with acquired brain injury: a scoping review

By Christiaan Gmelig Meyling, Olaf Verschuren, Ingrid R Rentinck, Raoul H H Engelbert, Jan Willem Gorter. 26 July 2021


Aim: To synthesize the evidence about the characteristics (frequency, intensity, time, type) and effects of physical rehabilitation interventions on functional recovery and performance in daily functioning in children and young people with acquired brain injury (ABI), including traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and non-TBI, during the subacute rehabilitation phase.

Method: Using scoping review methodology, a systematic literature search was performed using four databases. Articles were screened by title and abstract and data from eligible studies were extracted for synthesis.

Results: Nine of 3009 studies were included. The results demonstrated a variety of intervention characteristics: frequency varied between 1 and 7 days per week; time of intervention varied between 25 minutes and 6 hours a day; intervention types were specified in seven studies; and none of the included studies reported details of intensity of intervention. All studies reported positive results on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health: Children and Youth (ICF-CY) levels of body function and activities after the intervention period, with study designs of included studies being cohort studies without concurrent controls (n=7) or case reports (n=2).

Interpretation: Inconsistency in results hampers generalizability to guide clinical practice. Physical interventions during subacute rehabilitation have potential to improve functional recovery with intervention characteristics as an important factor influencing its effectiveness. Future well-designed studies are indicated to gain knowledge and optimize rehabilitation practice in paediatric ABI and high-quality research including outcomes across all ICF-CY domains is needed.

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