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COPCA®

This webpage introduces you to COPCA® and the benefits of the family-centred, early intervention programme.

About COPCA®

COPCA® stands for «COPing with and CAring for Infants with Special Needs». The early intervention programme for infants and young children focuses on the active inclusion of the whole family. The coaching of parents is a central component. Parents learn how they can independently and optimally support their child’s development as part of the child’s everyday life. The programme was developed at the beginning of the 2000s in the Netherlands by child physiotherapist Tineke Dirks and professor of developmental neurology Mijna Hadders-Algra. It was successfully introduced in Switzerland in 2015. The training and certification programme follows a two-year cycle.

For physiotherapists and occupational therapists

As a physiotherapist or occupational therapist with a COPCA® certificate, you will be able to offer the COPCA® programme to your young patients and their families. You will provide support and actively involve the family in encouraging the development of their child.

The COPCA® approach

The family-centered early intervention programme is based on the two key components of family and development. The family plays a leading role as an active partner in the family-centered practice and is involved in the complete intervention process as an equal partner. In terms of the development of the child, COPCA® follows the thinking of the Neuronal Group Selection Theory. As such, trial-and-error experience is emphasized as a means to encourage the child to active and varied motor behavior. 

Best practice and evidence

It is universally recognized that infants with a developmental risk require early intervention designed to optimize their development and to support the well-being of the child’s family.

Important components of early intervention are:

The COPCA® approach is one of coaching, designed to support the well-being and autonomy of the family. Parents stay in their role as parents and do not assume the role of therapist. This means that the goals of the families and the children are more achievable in the long-term, for example, the development of the child, participation of the child and the family and the well-being of all family members.

Current research
A recent study has shown that children with neurological abnormalities, who had taken part in a COPCA® programme with their families, achieved significantly more varied motor behavior than children who received traditional infant therapy. In addition, the children reached their motor developmental milestones far earlier. Studies of children with cerebral movement disorders verify that the two components of «parent coaching» and «stimulating the child» are associated with self-produced motor activity, better motor development and an improvement in the quality of life for the whole family.

Standardized assessments

Regular assessments guarantee the quality of the COPCA® programme. The following assessments are performed by certified COPCA® therapists:

Videos about the COPCA® programme

For doctors

Here we explore the physicians’ perspective of the COCPA® and familiarize you with the benefits of the programme for your patients.

The COPCA® approach

The COPCA® programme has been developed for children with impaired motor functionality, such as children with an elevated risk of cerebral movement impairment, preterm children or children with genetic syndromes.

The programme combines three key elements:

Family members are equal and active partners in the intervention process. They are coached by registered COPCA® coaches to stimulate their child’s motor development through everyday routines, such as playing, bath time or eating. COPCA® is scientifically proven to be a long-lasting intervention for families with infants or young children with impaired functionality.

Best practice and evidence

It is universally recognized that infants with a developmental risk require early intervention to optimize their development and to support the well-being of the family.

Important components of early intervention are:

The COPCA® approach is one of coaching, designed to support the well-being and autonomy of the family. Parents stay in their role as parents and do not assume the role of therapist. This means that the goals of the families and the children are more achievable in the long-term, for example, the development of the child, participation of the child and the family and the well-being of all family members.

Current research
A recent study has shown that children with neurological abnormalities who had taken part in a COPCA® programme with their families achieved significantly more varied motor behavior than children who received traditional infant therapy. In addition, the children achieved their motor developmental milestones far earlier. Studies of children with cerebral movement disorders verify that the two components of «parent coaching» and «stimulating the child» are associated with self-produced motor activity, better motor development and an improvement in the quality of life for the whole family.

Standardized assessments

Regular assessments guarantee the quality of the COPCA® programme. The following assessments are carried out by certified COPCA® coaches:

For parents

We would like to tell you about the COPCA® programme and how COPCA® can support you and your child in the motor development of your child in daily life.

The COPCA® approach

The COPCA® programme is suitable for you as a family with a young child whose development is compromised or who is showing developmental impairment. This could be, for example, children with an elevated risk of cerebral movement disorder, preterm children, or children with genetic syndromes.

At the center of the therapy is the whole family. A certified COPCA® coach will show you the best way of supporting your child’s development in everyday routines, such as playing, bath time or eating, and stimulate your child to active movement. The tasks of a certified COPCA® coach are: