Summer camp at Glenrose Hospital to train children’s brains

A dozen children meet at the Glenrose Hospital in Edmonton for a unique summer camp. Suffering from cerebral palsy, they try to improve their physical mobility, while participating in an innovative research project in this area.

The goal of the camp is to go beyond traditional therapies and test a new brain stimulation technique, says Dr. John Andersen, project leader.

For 20 minutes a day, the eight young participants wear a helmet that sends energy to their brains.

“It allows us to learn how to stimulate the brain and improve the way we train it,” says the doctor.

The children also participate in all kinds of manual activities during the day, such as visual arts or cooking, the goal of which is to help them improve the motor skills of their hands.

Cerebral palsy, which affects them, is often reflected in the difficulty of moving one side of the body, explains Dr. Andersen. These children therefore suffer from not being able to use both hands fully, which limits their autonomy.

In most cases, says the doctor, cerebral palsy is the result of a perinatal cerebral attack, that is to say that it occurred during the last months of pregnancy or their first months of life. To date, a thousand young Albertans are living with the consequences of a perinatal stroke.

Towards greater autonomy

The camp offers these children more intensive therapy than they are used to, notes Dr. Andersen. Instead of meeting a therapist once a week, they are stimulated daily for two full weeks.

The particularity of the camp is also to allow them to give themselves specific goals to achieve.

For 9-year-old Danika, for example, it’s about being able to do certain everyday tasks. “I wish I could do the dishes,” she said, with my right hand. ”

Mila, 10, wants to “get nail polish with your right hand, make the wheel and the right shaft.”

As the camp draws to a close, she proudly shows the nails of her left hand, which she has finally managed to color with her right hand.

The first goal of the camp, says Dr. Andersen, is to see children reach the goals they have set for themselves.

The second, from the point of view of research, is to be able to put in place, on the basis of the results obtained thanks to brain stimulation, new forms of therapy. “A therapy that is more precise and personalized,” he adds.

The camp is part of a national research project involving two other hospitals in Calgary and Toronto, bringing together a total of 80 children.

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