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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.