Standing on the small slide, the three steps of which he climbed with difficulty, the almost 4-year-old boy remains frozen. “I’m not coming”, Niels blurted out (his first name has been changed), seeking encouragement in the eyes of the three adults around him. Five minutes later, after having restarted his “ascent” from the beginning, he relishes the slide and arrives at the bottom with a great burst of laughter, to the applause of his companions.
In the large room filled with toys and games, two other young children are also very busy: one grabs small figures fixed by a suction cup on a coffee table, and sends them away, at an increasingly rapid pace. ; a little girl cuts pseudo-sausages from plasticine with a plastic knife. “Go”, « bravo » : everyone is relentlessly stimulated by the professionals around them. The activities follow one another in a happy hubbub. For Niels and his comrades, these are just games they are proud to play; but behind this playful facade hides an ambitious research project which evaluates a method of intensive rehabilitation in preschool children suffering, like them, of cerebral palsy.
This Wednesday, May 5, they are eight, distributed in two rooms of the pediatric rehabilitation service of the Les Capucins center, in Angers, to participate in this program called CAP ‘. In total, around a hundred small patients aged 1 to 4 years will benefit from it, in Angers, Brest, Brussels and Pisa. Some barely walk, and need splints, a walker, or even a wheelchair on a daily basis; others are more embarrassed in the upper limbs. For two weeks, at the rate of five hours per day, or 50 hours in total, they are here on an internship, permanently accompanied by physiotherapists and occupational therapists to develop their motor skills and autonomy through multiple and varied games.
Stimulate brain plasticity
The most frequent motor disability in children, resulting from a brain injury occurring in the prenatal period, at birth or more rarely in the first two years of life, cerebral palsy results in a more or less severe deficit of or several members. In France, around 1,500 newborns are affected each year, a third of whom will not walk independently. The prevalence has dropped slightly since the 2000s (from 1.96 to 1.77 in 1,000), thanks to improved neonatal care.
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