An exploratory study: Expanding the concept of play for children with severe cerebral palsy.

Authors: Graham, N., Truman, J. and Holgate, H.

Journal: Briish Journal of Occupational Therapy

Volume: 77

Issue: 7

Publisher: SAGE Journals



Play is essential to a child's development, and is a dominating component of a child's life. Forming part of a broader study aiming to explore what parents of children with cerebral palsy understand by play, and its use in therapy and home programmes, this research article focuses on how parents expand their concept of play for their children.


A qualitative methodology and interpretive descriptive approach were taken. Following ethical approval, seven parents were recruited, completed an interview, and provided a contextual information sheet. An interpretive descriptive approach to analysis allowed exploration of this data.


Parents appeared to expand their concept of play beyond the conventional idea of play for typically developing children, seemingly as a result of the limitations placed on each child's play through their physical disability. Parents discussions revealed three subthemes: vicarious play, play through communication, and therapy in play.


Occupational therapists can help parents to understand how the concept of play can be expanded to involve ideas such as vicarious play and communication as play. Parents may then feel more comfortable in allowing their children to experience play as a primary occupation, in a less conventional way.

Source: Manual

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