Pediatric Physical Therapy

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Pediatric Physical Therapy:
Research Report

The Effects of Strength Training on Gait in Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy

Eagleton, Melissa MPT; Iams, Amelia MPT; McDowell, Jennifer MPT; Morrison, Rachel MPT; Evans, Constance L. MA, PT

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Purpose: This study was designed to examine the effects of strength training on gait velocity, cadence, step length, and energy expenditure as well as the distance ambulated during a three-minute walk test in adolescents with cerebral palsy (CP) and to provide an assessment of subjects’ preference for exercising in a community fitness setting.

Methods: Seven adolescents with CP participated in a six-week strengthening program. Two subjects performed the program at a local fitness center, and five participated at a local high school gym. Subjects, aged 12 to 20 years, were evaluated before and after intervention for trunk and lower extremity muscle strength, gait velocity, cadence, step length, energy expenditure, and the distance ambulated during a three-minute walk test. Data were analyzed using the nonparametric, Wilcoxon signed-rank test.

Results: All five dependent variables were found to change significantly after the intervention period.

Conclusion: Strength training is an important aspect of physical therapy intervention in general, and this study suggests that it is also an effective intervention for the population of adolescents with CP. In addition, all subjects provided subjective feedback supporting their preference for completing the strengthening program in a fitness center or school gym as opposed to exercising during a typical physical therapy session.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


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