Authors of a study that compared the effects of a supported speed treadmill training exercise program (SSTTEP) with exercise on spasticity, strength, motor control, gait spatiotemporal parameters, gross motor skills, and physical function in children with cerebral palsy (CP) report that both groups experience improvements in function and gait. However, only participants in SSTTEP maintained gains after withdrawal of intervention.
Twenty-six children (14 boys, 12 girls; mean age 9 years 6 months) with spastic CP (diplegia, n=12; triplegia, n=2; quadriplegia n=12; Gross Motor Function Classification System levels II-IV) were randomly assigned to the SSTTEP or exercise (strengthening) group. After a twice daily, 2-week induction, children continued the intervention at home 5 days a week for 10 weeks. Data collected at baseline, after 12-weeks of intervention, and 4 weeks post-intervention included spasticity, motor control, and strength; gait spatiotemporal parameters; Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM); and Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument (PODCI).
Gait speed, cadence, and PODCI global scores improved, with no difference between groups. No significant changes were seen in spasticity, strength, motor control, GMFM scores, or PODCI transfers and mobility. Post-hoc testing showed that gains in gait speed and PODCI global scores were maintained in SSTTEP participants after withdrawal of the intervention.
APTA members Therese E. Johnston, PT, PhD, MBA, Sandy Ross, PT, MHS, DPT, PCS, and Carole A. Tucker, PT, PhD, PCS, coauthored this study, which is published the August issue of Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.