Objective. Although occupationally embedded exercise is becoming a recognized topic in occupational therapy research, study of this phenomenon in children has been limited. The present study examined whether play elicits therapeutic patterns of movement through the use of two ABA single-case experiments. It was predicted that in two children with hypotonic cerebral palsy, the addition of a favorite game to the occupational form, or treatment environment, would increase functional vertical neck and back extension.
Method. Each subject was positioned in prone on a wedge. During the A phases, each was given verbal directions to hold her head up. During the B phase, a favorite game was introduced. It was predicted that each subject would extend her back and neck in a functional way in order to manipulate and observe the game. The dependent variables were the mean range of neck extension and the mean range of back extension, which were measured by a videotaped, two-dimensional kinematic analysis.
Results. The addition of a favorite game to the occupational form improved vertical neck and back extension while discouraging nonfunctional neck hyperextension and fixing postures in both children.
Conclusion. Embedding exercise within a play occupation enhanced the prone extension of two children with hypotonic cerebral palsy.