Neuroplasticity studies examining children with hemiparesis (CH) have focused predominantly on unilateral interventions. CH also have bimanual coordination impairments with bimanual interventions showing benefits. We explored neuroplasticity following hand-Arm bimanual intensive therapy (HABIT) of 60 hours in twelve CH (6 females, mean age 11 ± 3.6 y). Serial behavioral evaluations and MR imaging including diffusion tensor (DTI) and functional (fMRI) imaging were performed before, immediately after, and at 6-week follow-up. Manual skills were assessed repeatedly with the Assisting Hand Assessment, Children's Hand Experience Questionnaire, and Jebsen-Taylor Test of Hand Function. Beta values, indicating the level of activation, and lateralization index (LI), indicating the pattern of brain activation, were computed from fMRI. White matter integrity of major fibers was assessed using DTI. 11/12 children showed improvement after intervention in at least one measure, with 8/12 improving on two or more tests. Changes were retained in 6/8 children at follow-up. Beta activation in the affected hemisphere increased at follow-up, and LI increased both after intervention and at follow-up. Correlations between LI and motor function emerged after intervention. Increased white matter integrity was detected in the corpus callosum and corticospinal tract after intervention in about half of the participants. Results provide first evidence for neuroplasticity changes following bimanual intervention in CH.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2015 Maya Weinstein et al.