Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Jennifer Hight

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Second Advisor

Cassandra Catherine Ginn

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Third Advisor

MaryEllen Thompson

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy


This case study sought to understand the experience of a single family of a child with cerebral palsy (CP) using lower extremity orthoses (LEOs) in natural play contexts. CP is the most commonly occurring motor disability in childhood. Associated with CP, impairments in functional mobility, spasticity, varying degrees of muscle tone, ROM, and impaired gross and fine motor control are barriers to meaningful play experiences in this population. LEOs are widely prescribed devices for children with CP, used as walking aids and to improve/offset some of these performance deficits and body structures. Although, the true efficacy of LEOs is yet to be established. Play is the primary occupation of childhood, contributing to the development of cognitive, emotional, and physical skills of the child. Because play participation is vital to development throughout childhood, it is pertinent that habilitative professionals understand how use of a widely prescribed class of orthotics for children with CP may support and/or hinder participation in meaningful play experiences. Semi-structured interviews and video-recorded play observations were used to collect data. From this data, five themes emerged. These included; “LEOs support participation in gross motor play”, “Experience of social play/participation is adversely impacted by use of LEOs”, “Self-perception of braces and choice of play varies across contexts”, “LEOs as a facilitator and/or barrier to undesirable body positioning during play”, and “Pain/Discomfort caused by LEOs during play”.