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Constraint therapy

Published April 2013

Download the full evidence summary PDF: WTE Constraint therapy

PLEASE NOTE: This summary was produced more than 4 years ago. Information provided may be out of date. If you think it would be helpful to update this summary please contact us at

What were we asked?

A parent wanted to know if there was any evidence that constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) was effective at improving manual ability in children with hemiplegia.

Key findings

  • The best available evidence for CIMT found positive treatment effects on functional ability in children with hemiplegia.
  • However, it has been suggested that these improvements are only due to the high intensity of the training exercises.
  • One study which found no positive treatment effect for CIMT involved only 3 hours of therapy per day.
  • There are concerns about the impact of restraint on the unaffected arm.
  • Bimanual training is another therapy for hemiplegia which has been compared to CIMT. It involves exercises using both arms; no restraint is used.
  • This therapy has been found to be equally effective as CIMT, and it may have a greater positive impact on the child’s everyday life as both arms are involved in the therapy.

Note: This information is produced by PenCRU researchers and reviewed by external experts. The views expressed are those of PenCRU at the University of Exeter Medical School and do not represent the views of the Cerebra charity, or any other parties mentioned. We strongly recommend seeking medical advice before undertaking any treatments/therapies.