Research Priorities

CPIRF has a dual mission to maximize the potential and quality of life of people with Cerebral Palsy and their families and to reduce the prevalence and impact of Cerebral Palsy through funding cutting-edge research.. There is a need to decrease the need for expensive invasive treatments to control spasticity and, most importantly, enhance quality of life and access for the CP community care worldwide. The CP International Research Foundation seeks to partner with clinical and educational programs to enhance the knowledge base necessary for best counseling, educational, clinical and technological programs.

It is now time to focus our resources on:

Preventing CP:

  1. Bench studies examining mechanisms of neurological damage.
  2. Studies of neuroprotective pharmacological agents and strategies.
  3. Studies of agents that may encourage neural regeneration (including growth factors, stem and cord blood cells).
  4. Large epidemiological studies examining environmental, genetic, maternal health, and/or practice factors that may be contributing to prematurity and brain damage in newborns.
  5. Genomics and biomarker studies to identify babies at risk for CP before symptoms are manifested.
  6. Examination of racial disparities in incidence of CP. CP occurs with statistically higher incidence in term births among African Americans. It is critically important to determine whether there are preventable silent complications of pregnancy that either limit blood flow to the placenta (e.g. hypertension) or issues related to uterine expansion.

Improving motor and cognitive development in children with Cerebral Palsy by using therapeutic transformational technologies:

  1. Supporting studies of “mass practice” and robotic therapy.
  2. Exploring virtual reality techniques in conjunction with motor and intellectual learning.
  3. Supporting studies of functional neuromuscular stimulation in combination with
    • mass practice/robotics
    • focal antispasticity treatment
    • virtual reality/computer environment stimulation
  4. Noninvasive Neuroimaging
    • for early diagnosis of cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions
    • dynamic functional neuroimaging to ascertain the impact of pharmacological agents and experiential therapies (PT, OT, Speech, Robotics, FNS, VR) on focal brain activity.

Preventing secondary complications and improving quality of life in Adults with CP:

The number of adults with CP is fast approaching the number of children with CP. Adults with CP have complications that have been under-recognized, undocumented, and undertreated. Most adults with CP experience earlier onset of joint pain and arthritic complications than the general public. There are no clinical programs for adults with CP and medical education has not to date provided a forum for dealing with the needs of this community.

  1. There is a need for long term planning when treating children with CP particularly as applies to invasive, permanent structural surgical interventions.
  2. There is a need for studying methods to keep adults with CP ambulatory and improve cardiovascular fitness.
  3. Epidemiological studies are necessary to ascertain the magnitude of medical and orthopedic complications in this population.
  4. Health services research is required to ascertain best practices and the impact of changing practice in Adults with CP.