Physiotherapists with the Department of Clinical Science at Brunel University, London, recently received a £250,000 grant to support new research into resistance training for adolescents with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain injury, or a malformation that usually occurs during fetal development of the brain. Children with cerebral palsy have a diminished ability to control muscle movements, balance, and posture.
The award came through Action Medical Research for Children and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Charitable Trust, and allows the researchers to continue their work into cerebral palsy. Both independent organizations support medical advancements by awarding research projects of relevance for children and young people. The money will be applied to a three-year study with two distinct phases. The first aims to evaluate the effectiveness of resistance training in young people with cerebral palsy. The second phase intends to determine how resistance training changes the mechanical structure of muscles in this population.
This study will be headed by Dr. Jennifer Ryan, a researcher in cerebral palsy, physical activity and physical fitness. Researches plan for it to include 60 randomized and controlled adolescents with ages ranging from 12 to 19. Dr. Cherry Kilbride, a lecturer in Physiotherapy at Brunel, and Wendy Levin, a physiotherapist at the Royal Free London Hospital, are also part of the research team.
While cerebral palsy cannot be cured, treatments do address disease-related disabilities and improve a child’s quality of life. The earlier cerebral palsy treatments start, the higher the chance of overcoming developmental difficulties, although prognosis can vary based on the severity of brain damage. Current studies are trying to evaluate the performance of both experimental and already established treatments to help physicians and parents choose the best therapy for a child.