In collaboration with the Department of Pediatric Oncology (Prof. Jochen Rössler) we ran a clinical trial investigating the efficacy of cognitive and physical training in childhood cancer surviors – the Brainfit-Study (Everts, Leibundgut). There is now a large pool of neuroimaging, cognitive and sportmotor data which we are about to analyse. We first focus on cross-sectional data with the question whether childhood cancer without the involvement of the central nervous system entails neural and cognitive alterations when compared to controls. Then we will analyse neuroimaging data longitudinally in order to measure the training-related plasticity of the child’s brain after cancer and its treatment. The Brainfit-Study is financed with the support of the Fondation Gaydoul, the Schweizerische Krebsstiftung, Krebstiftung Thun-Berner Oberland, the Dietmar Hopp Stiftung, the Berner Stiftung für krebskranke Kinder und Jugendliche, and the Hans und Annelies Swierstra Stiftung.

Improvement of neuropsychological assessment tools for neurorehabilitation

Brain disease may be associated with a range of neuropsychological problems. Neuropsychological rehabilitation aims at providing optimal information for integration or reintegration of the affected children and adolescents in everyday life. The projects “c-SDMT – a pilot study” (Sandra Bigi & Karen Lidzba), “N-PAP: Neuropsychological Prediction of Academic Achievement in Patients with – Neurological Disorders” (Karen Lidzba & Sandra Bigi), and “The influence of episodic long-term memory on participation after pediatric mild traumatic brain injury” (Martina Studer & Karen Lidzba) evaluate the additional effect of two new assessment tools for the prediction of academic and social integration. These studies are sponsored by the Batzebär foundation and the Anna-Müller Grocholski Foundation.

Improving hand function in infants and children with hemiparesis

In collaboration with occupational therapy in our department, various work is taking place to explore interventions to improve hand function. For example, a pilot study (Action Observation Training [AOT] to improve upper limb function in infants after unilateral brain lesion - a Feasibility Study) is evaluating a new therapeutic approachto improve hand function in infants with unilateral brain lesions, and work is taking place on functional electrical stimulation in children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy and birth trauma brachial plexus lesion.