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Paediatric physical therapy in infants at risk of neurodevelopmental disorders

PT in infants at risk

At a glance


Infants at risk of neurodevelopmental disorders are in need of early intervention. There is limited evidence of the effectiveness of nowadays typically applied infant physiotherapy (TIP) which are based on the concepts of Berta and Karel Bobath (Neurodevelopmental Treatment -NDT) or Václav Vojta.

The novel program „Coping with and Caring for Infants with Special Needs “ (COPCA), focuses on family-centred intervention, caregiver coaching, self-produced motor behaviour and trial-and-error experiences by means of play, was associated with a positive effect on motor development and family empowerment. The program is to be examined in Switzerland.

The aim of this project is to scientifically underpin, which elements of paediatric physiotherapy for infants at high risk for neurodevelopmental disorders are associated with better developmental outcome and how these elements can be implemented in paediatric practice.

The project consists of three studies:

1. Contents of physical therapy in infants at high risk for developmental motor disorders in Switzerland: A quantification of contents.

2. Changes in time spent on specific paediatric physical therapy-actions during therapy of therapists following a COPCA course.

3.  Evaluation whether intervention by means of COPCA has a better effect on motor outcome in very preterm infants than intervention by means of TIP in Switzerland.

Study questions:

1. How much time (relative duration in a treatment session) Swiss paediatric physical therapists spend in which therapy-actions?

2. Does time spent on COPCA specific therapy-actions increase during the COPCA course?

3. Does motor outcome of preterm infants treated with COPCA differ from that of preterm infants treated with TIP, during the intervention, immediately after the intervention of six months and at the corrected age of 18 months?


1. A quantitative observation study

2. A longitudinal observation study

3. A randomized controlled trial with process analysis


1. Quantified contents (relative duration of different therapy-actions in a treatment session) of typical infant paediatric physical therapy in Switzerland.

2. Changes of therapy-actions during a COPCA course

3. Motor outcome in preterm infants after six months COPCA or TIP and at the corrected age of 18 months

Further information