Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy for Children

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Constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) is a proven method for rehabilitating the upper extremities in children with hemiplegia -- loss of strength that can lead to paralysis on one side of the body. During our week-long intensive Dukes in Motion summer program, pediatric occupational therapists and physical therapists use constraint-induced movement therapy to help your child develop gross and fine motor skills on the affected side of their body while they take part in fun activities with their peers.

Dukes in Motion is grateful for the support it receives from the Duke Hospital Auxiliary Fund.

Summer 2025 Information

Application for Dukes in Motion for Summer 2025 will open in January. Please check back in Spring 2025 to complete the application form.

Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy Helps Improve Function

Constraint-induced movement therapy has been shown to help children with hemiplegia -- which may be caused by cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, or brachial plexus injury -- improve their muscle strength, coordination, and range of motion on the affected side of their body. During therapy, your child will wear a cast that covers the hand and wrist of their stronger arm. The cast encourages them to use their weaker arm to perform activities. CIMT encourages the brain to communicate better with the affected hand and prompts children to use their weaker side more often and with better coordination. After completing constraint-induced movement therapy, children often gain independence with self-care skills like getting dressed, eating, or brushing their teeth. They may also feel more self-confident and have a better quality of life.

A Modified Approach
Traditionally, constraint-induced movement therapy can last up to six weeks. Pediatric therapists in our program use a modified intensive approach to better suit the needs of busy families. Research suggests that children in group-based therapy performed in a camp-like setting benefit not just from the therapy itself, but also from interacting and learning from peers with similar challenges.

Our Providers

Dukes in Motion is run by our pediatric occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) team. 

Specially Trained Therapists Support Your Child’s Needs

Dukes in Motion is run by our pediatric occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) team. OTs and PTs, who are specially trained in CIMT, work together to help children use their affected arm and hand and coordinate their gross and fine motor movements. They guide children throughout the week to maximize their success.

Our therapists are assisted by volunteer staff of OT and PT graduate students and other students and community volunteers who are passionate about working with children. Each child is paired with a volunteer, who will help them with daily activities throughout the week.

A Typical Day at Dukes in Motion

Every day has a different theme, for example animals, Olympics, or superheroes. Our daily schedule includes indoor and outdoor play, games and other activities that stress gross motor skill development, crafts, music and dance, lunch, snacks, and rest times. 

Woman and boy with arm in cast

Is Dukes in Motion Right for My Child?

Our program encourages children to engage with their peers and have fun. At the same time, your child will gain skills and strength by using their affected hand and arm during activities such as games, crafts, snack time, and peer play. Dukes in Motion may be right for your child if they:

  • Are between 4 and 9 years old
  • Have been diagnosed with hemiplegia
  • Can walk or move independently using assistive equipment
  • Are able to open and close the fingers of their affected hand
  • Can follow directions and participate in activities without parental support
  • Can wear a cast all day
  • Use the bathroom independently 

If your child works and learns best in a one-on-one setting with an adult or if they have a low frustration tolerance, individual therapy sessions may be a better choice. 

Best Children's Hospital in NC

Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in 10 pediatric specialties.

Evaluation and Goal Setting

Children accepted into the program will have an evaluation in May 2024 to confirm that they are a good fit for Dukes in Motion and allow us to establish goals. We will also schedule a time to make a cast for your child’s dominant arm, to be worn during the week’s activities.

Cost to Families
Families are responsible for daily copays associated with their visits each day. We bill for an OT and PT visit for each day of the program. If you are interested in Dukes in Motion but are not able to afford the copays, let us know and we can help you explore other funding options.

This page was medically reviewed on 11/29/2023 by