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This article is the author's final published version in BMJ Open, Volume 13, Issue 9, September 2023, Article number e076881.

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INTRODUCTION: Children with unilateral cerebral palsy (UCP) have difficulty in bimanual coordination that restricts the child's independence in daily activities. Although several efficacious interventions to improve bimanual coordination exist, these interventions often require higher training doses and have modest effect sizes. Thus, there is a critical need to find an effective priming agent that, when paired with task-specific training, will facilitate neurobiological processes to enhance the magnitude of training effects and subsequently improve functional capabilities of children with UCP. The aim of this study is to determine the effects of a novel priming agent, remote ischaemic conditioning (RIC), combined with bimanual training on bimanual skill learning and corticospinal excitability in children with UCP.

METHODS AND ANALYSES: 46 children, aged 8-16 years, will be randomly assigned to receive RIC or sham conditioning combined with 5 days of bimanual skill (cup stacking) training (15 trials per session). RIC or sham conditioning will be performed with a standard conditioning protocol of five cycles of alternative inflation and deflation of a pressure cuff on the affected arm with the pressure of at least 20 mm Hg above systolic blood pressure for RIC and 25 mm Hg for sham conditioning. Primary outcomes will be movement time and corticospinal excitability measures determined with a single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Secondary outcomes include Assisting Hand Assessment, spatio-temporal kinematic variables and paired pulse TMS measures. All measures will be conducted before and immediately after the intervention. A mixed model analysis of variance will test the group×time interaction for all outcomes with group (RIC and sham) as between-subject and time (preintervention, postintervention) as within-subject factors.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The study has been approved by the University Medical Centre Institutional Review Board (UMCIRB #21-001913). We will disseminate the study findings via peer-reviewed publications and presentations at professional conferences.


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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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