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Sleep positioning systems for cerebral palsy

A sleep positioning system provides support to a child when lying down in bed at night. The primary aim is to prevent hip deformity. Hip migration - where the top of the thigh bone gradually moves away from the pelvis – is a problem for many children with cerebral palsy and is often associated with pain.

Night-time postural management was historically achieved with pillows and cushions. However there are now commercially-available sleep positioning systems that purport to be more effective. This equipment is often prescribed along with equipment designed to support posture while sitting or standing during the day. Together, these are referred to as 24-hour postural management programmes.

Families and health professionals need information about whether sleep positioning systems are indeed effective in slowing the progression of hip deformity to make informed decisions about whether to use them. Families told us it is also important to know whether they affect children’s sleep, and whether sleeping in the systems is comfortable.

This was one of the first questions suggested for research by PenCRU Family Faculty at our launch events. Since then we have conducted two studies:

We reviewed the available evidence in a Cochrane Review.

We collaborated with colleagues in Sussex and elsewhere to conduct a randomised controlled trial.