Power Training Helps Children With CP Meet Mobility Goals, Study Shows

A power-training program aimed at improving the function of children with cerebral palsy helped them meet mobility goals, a Dutch study reported.

The study was published in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. The title is “Improved parent-reported mobility and achievement of individual goals on activity and participation level after functional power-training in young children with cerebral palsy: a double-baseline controlled trial.

In a previous study, researchers from the University Medical Center in Amsterdam used the power-training program they developed to increase lower-limb muscle strength and walking capacity in children with cerebral palsy.

Because mobility limitations often prevent children with the disorder from actively participating in school and family activities, the team wanted to know if the program would enable the children to meet specific mobility goals.

Twenty-two children, aged 4-10 years, and their parents took part in the study. Researchers asked the parents to track whether the children were able to meet their goals. The team compared children’s ability to meet goals while receiving normal care for 14 weeks with their ability to meet goals while taking power training for 14 weeks.

The children took power training three times a week for 60 minutes at a time.  Each session consisted of a warm-up phase, three to four power exercises, and a game. Exercises included running, walking,  pushing a chair, climbing stairs, propelling a scooter, and walking sideways while carrying weight.

To keep the children motivated, the trainers created a super hero story and secret missions.

In addition to a goal achievement scale, researchers looked at changes in the children’s Functional Mobility Scale scores and in their parent-reported Mobility Questionnaire scores.

After power-training, 86% of children achieved or exceeded their goal, compared with only 14% during the normal care period.

Power training also enabled children to walk longer distances, parents reported.

The Functional Mobility Scale rates a child’s walking ability at three distances — five, 50 and 500 yards. The three represent mobility at home, at school and in the community. The scale takes into account different assistive devices that a child uses in different environments.

No significant differences were found between the normal-care and power-training periods for distances of five or 50 meters, since, in general, children score high on their ability to walk these distances unassisted. But the chance of a child improving their score by 1 or more on the Functional Mobility Scale at 500 meters was 10 times higher after power training.

Another important finding was that children’s scores on the parent-reported Mobility Questionnaire scale were much better after power training.

“The results indicated that functional power-training is an effective training to achieve personalized treatment goals for activities in daily life and parent-reported mobility performance in young children with cerebral palsy,” the researchers wrote.