Exercise intervention protocol in children and young adults with cerebral palsy: the effects of strength, flexibility and gait training on physical performance, neuromuscular mechanisms and cardiometabolic risk factors (EXECP)

Pedro Valadão*, Harri Piitulainen, Eero A. Haapala, Tiina Parviainen, Janne Avela, Taija Finni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) have problems in everyday tasks such as walking and climbing stairs due to a combination of neuromuscular impairments such as spasticity, muscle weakness, reduced joint flexibility and poor coordination. Development of evidence-based interventions are in pivotal role in the development of better targeted rehabilitation of CP, and thus in maintaining their motor function and wellbeing. Our aim is to investigate the efficacy of an individually tailored, multifaceted exercise intervention (EXECP) in children and young adults with CP. EXECP is composed of strength, flexibility and gait training. Furthermore, this study aims to verify the short-term retention of the adaptations three months after the end of the EXECP intervention. Methods: Twenty-four children and young adults with spastic CP will be recruited to participate in a 9-month research project with a 3-month training intervention, consisting of two to three 90-min sessions per week. In each session, strength training for the lower limbs and trunk muscles, flexibility training for the lower limbs and inclined treadmill gait training will be performed. We will evaluate muscle strength, joint flexibility, neuromuscular and cardiometabolic parameters. A nonconcurrent multiple baseline design with two pre-tests and two post-tests all interspaced by three months is used. In addition to the CP participants, 24 typically developing age and sex-matched participants will perform the two pre-tests (i.e. no intervention) to provide normative data. Discussion: This study has a comprehensive approach examining longitudinal effects of wide variety of variables ranging from physical activity and gross motor function to sensorimotor functions of the brain and neuromuscular and cardiometabolic parameters, providing novel information about the adaptation mechanisms in cerebral palsy. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first intervention study providing supervised combined strength, flexibility and gait training for young individuals with CP. Trial registration number: ISRCTN69044459, prospectively registered (21/04/2017).

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Number of pages19
JournalBMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Cardiometabolic
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Flexibility
  • Gait
  • Neuromuscular
  • Strength
  • Training

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