Therapeutic Approach to the Habilitation of the Child with Arthrogryposis

LESLIE C. MEYER, MD and CHERYL A. WITHROW, OTR*


Thirty-six patients with multiple limb involvement were evaluated by a questionnaire, chart review, and actual involvement with patients and families. Therapy aimed to achieve maximum range of motion, to improve posture and mobility, and to achieve independence in activities of daily living through the use of stretching, splinting, adaptive equipment and clothing, and family and community involvement. All patients benefited from stretching, range of motion, splinting programs, or adaptive equipment as needed. Seven were treated from infancy. All improved and range of motion was maintained through hospitalization and home programs. Only one patient was considered a candidate for surgery.

  1. Patient benefits from early therapy intervention consisting of stretching, range of motion and splinting.
  2. Upper-limb surgery is rarely indicated and was not found beneficial.
  3. Adaptive equipment and clothing enable independent mobility, improve posture, and enhance independence in activities of daily living.
  4. Family involvement and compliance with the program is imperative to maintain results from therapy and improve developmental status.
  5. A multidisciplinary approach with patient and family includes: physician, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, orthotist, social worker, and community resources.

*Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children, 2100 North Pleasantburg Drive, Greenville, SC 29609-3194