Effect of Strength and Aerobic Training in Children with Cerebral Palsy

UNNITHAN, VISWANATH B.1; KATSIMANIS, GEORGE2; EVANGELINOU, CHRISTINA2; KOSMAS, CHRISTOULAS2; KANDRALI, IFIGENIA2; KELLIS, ELEFTHERIOS2

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 2007 - Volume 39 - Issue 11 - pp 1902-1909
doi: 10.1249/mss.0b013e3181453694
CLINICAL SCIENCES: Clinically Relevant

Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a strength and aerobic interval training program on arm-cranking economy, aerobic capacity, and gross motor function in children and adolescents with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy (CP).

Methods: Seven subjects (five females, two males; mean age 15.9, range 14-18 yr) participated in a 12-wk aerobic interval and strength training program, three times per week, 70 min per session. The aerobic interval training required the subjects to perform 60-m uphill walking repetitions. Six individuals (four females, two males; mean age 15.7, range 14-17 yr) who did not receive the training program served as controls. Pre- and postexercise tests were performed to assess changes in arm-cranking economy, aerobic capacity, and gross motor function.

Results: The results demonstrated significant (P < 0.05) reductions in the oxygen cost of arm cranking (mean ± SD: pre: 13.2 ± 3.22 mL·kg−1·min−1, post: 12.7 ± 3.38 mL·kg−1·min−1) and %V˙O2peak (pre: 75.8 ± 3.55%, post: 61.8 ± 7.47%) in the training group. Significant (P < 0.05) increases in aerobic capacity (pre: 17.5 ± 4.45 mL·kg−1·min−1, post: 20.8 ± 5.93 mL·kg−1·min−1) were also noted for the training group. Significant (P < 0.05) improvements in gross motor function measures were also noted in the training group (pre: 30.35%, post: 33.85%).

Conclusion: These findings demonstrate that the application of a 12-wk strength and aerobic interval training program reduced the oxygen cost of arm cranking, improved aerobic capacity, and improved gross motor function in children and adolescents with CP.

1Sport Department, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, UNITED KINGDOM; and 2Department of Physical Education and Sports Science, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, GREECE

Address for correspondence: Viswanath B. Unnithan, Ph.D., Sport Department, Liverpool Hope University, Hope Park, Liverpool L16 9JD, UK; E-mail: unnithv@hope.ac.uk.

Submitted for publication December 2006.

Accepted for publication June 2007.

©2007The American College of Sports Medicine