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Effects of Intensive Locomotor Treadmill Training on Young Children with Cerebral Palsy

Mattern-Baxter, Katrin PT, PCS, DPT; Bellamy, Sandra PT, DPT, PCS; Mansoor, Jim K. PhD

doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e3181bf53d9
Research Report

Purpose: To examine whether an intensive, short-term locomotor treadmill training program helps children with cerebral palsy (CP) younger than 4 years of age improve their gross motor skills related to ambulation, walking speed, and endurance.

Methods: Six children with cerebral palsy, ages 2.5 to 3.9 years, participated in treadmill training 3 times per week for 1-hour sessions consisting of 2 individualized treadmill walks, for 4 weeks, and were tested before and after the intervention and at a 1-month follow-up. The outcome measures included the Gross Motor Function Measure-66, the Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory, a timed 10-m walk test, and a 6-minute walk test.

Results: Significant differences were found in the Gross Motor Function Measure-66 Dimensions D and E, the Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory Mobility Scales, over-ground walking speed, and walking distance.

Conclusions: The results of this study provide preliminary evidence that children with CP younger than 4 years of age can improve their gross motor function, walking speed, and walking endurance after intensive locomotor treadmill training.

The study demonstrates that children age 4 years and younger can achieve gains in ambulation as a result of an intensive treadmill training program.

Department of Physical Therapy, University of the Pacific, Stockton, California

Address Correspondence to: Katrin Mattern-Baxter, PT, PCS, DPT, Department of Physical Therapy, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95211. E-mail:

Grant Support: Part of the equipment used in this study was obtained with a Scholarly/Artistic Activity Grant from the University of the Pacific, Stockton, Calif.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.