Friday, 29 May 2015

GREAT AUSTRALIAN CONUNDRUM

Research and reality in 'CE research'
Shall ever the twain meet?

This conundrum is not of course specifically Australian but over the last couple of years the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Sydney, New South Wales, has been offering a sharp in-house example of the wider question.

Research

A couple of years ago Conductive World drew attention to a research review undertaken by occupational therapist Iona Novak, concerned with relative efficacy for various therapies for cerebral palsy as demonstrated by evaluative studies of a particular kind:


This review concluded that Conductive Education falls below the 'worth-it line', and advised practitioners and parents:
Probably don't do it
Ms Novak is employed by Cerebral Palsy Alliance which through its Research Foundation regards itself as 'an international leader in research into cerebral palsy '.

Reality

I was reminded of Cerebral Palsy Alliance by reading a nice, newly redesigned website from the Conductive Education Learning Centre, Sydney:


The Conductive Education Learning Centre is run by Cerebral Palsy Alliance

No mention of Ms Novak's recommendation, nor of renewed academic interest of this complex educational service.

Ms Novak's attention has moved on, to stem cells.

Reality-focused research in Conductive Education

Reality vs research? This should not be. The apparent conundrum comes from a history of inappropriate research methods, uncritically accepted. Following the research review mentioned above I was goaded by Rony Schenker into a joint public criticism of this situation in the scientific press:


To read our published criticism of this review finding, see:

Has this had any effect? None yet as far as I discern, not least because anyway the trajectory in academic research in and around Conductive Education is distinctly downwards anyway.

Meanwhile, whether or not to support Conductive Education, financially or in other ways, remains a matter for all sorts of considerations other than the outcomes of research reviews, as it always has been.

How does the Cerebral Palsy Alliance cope with any cognitive dissonance arising over Conductive Education? Now there's a nice social-social CE research study – of potential value outside the CPA, beyond Australia, and relevant to much more than just Conductive Education and cerebral palsy. What a remarkable natural experiment...

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