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Implementation of COPCA

A family-centred early intervention programme in infant physiotherapy
PhD ceremony:Ms S. (Schirin) Akhbari-Ziegler
When:September 22, 2020
Supervisors:prof. dr. M. (Mijna) Hadders-Algra, prof. dr. M. Wirz
Co-supervisor:dr. T. Hielkema
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Medical Sciences / UMCG
Implementation of COPCA

This thesis provides insight in the application and effect of infant physiotherapy in Switzerland. It focuses on the implementation in daily practice of the family-centred early intervention programme “COPing with and CAring for infants with special needs” (COPCA). COPCA has been developed since the beginning of this century by Tineke Dirks (paediatric physiotherapist) and Mijna Hadders-Algra (developmental neurologist) from the University Medical Center Groningen. They developed COPCA because of lacking evidence on the effectiveness of existing physiotherapeutic programmes on motor development of infants at risk of developmental disorders. COPCA differs from typical physiotherapeutic programmes in two ways (1) by including the whole family as active partners; (2) by offering the infant opportunities to learn through self-produced motor behaviour and trial-and error experiences.  The thesis shows, that it is possible to implement COPCA successfully in Switzerland, and that Swiss parents of infants with impaired motor development highly appreciate COPCA. They especially valued its home-based setting, the support from the COPCA coach, and the experience being able to promote their infant’s development by integrating stimulating activities in daily routines. The thesis includes a small randomized controlled trial that demonstrated that COPCA was associated with better motor outcomes in infants with motor impairments. The thesis concludes that COPCA enables parents to promote their infants’ motor development in an autonomous way in their real life environment. The promising results of this thesis should be strengthened through studies evaluating the effect of COPCA in a larger group of infants at risk of motor developmental disorders.