Pediatric Physical Therapy:
Section Information: Abstracts of Poster and Platform Presentations for the 2004 Combined Sections Meeting: Poster Presentations
THE EFFECTS OF AEROBIC EXERCISE ON ENDURANCE, STRENGTH, FUNCTION AND SELF-PERCEPTION IN ADOLESCENTS WITH SPASTIC CEREBRAL PALSY.
K.A. Schlough, D. Nawoczenski, E. Arnold, E. Clarke, K. Doyle, M. Vicari, Physical Therapy, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY.
PURPOSE/HYPOTHESIS: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of aerobic exercise on endurance, strength, function, and self-perception in ambulatory adolescents with spastic cerebral palsy while utilizing community resources and easily adapted testing procedures.
NUMBER OF SUBJECTS: Participants were three adolescents (mean age of 18.3 years) with varying classifications of spastic cerebral palsy who were able to ambulate for at least 5 minutes.
MATERIALS/METHODS: A single system A1B1A2B2 design was used to study changes before, during and after two different regimens of aerobic exercise. Data collection during the different phases included the energy expenditure index (EEI), lower extremity muscle strength, the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) and the Self-Perception Profile for College Students (SPPCS).
DATA ANALYSIS: A 2 standard deviation bandwidth analysis was used to determine significance (P < 0.05). Phases were graphed for visual analysis of slope, levels and trends.
RESULTS: One participant showed a significant improvement in the EEI, one had no change and another participant showed a significant deterioration. All participants had a significant improvement in at least one of the components of the EEI; resting heart rate (HR), walking HR, velocity. Combined mean strength of quadriceps, hamstrings, plantarflexor and dorsiflexor muscles increased for all participants. GMFM and self-perception of appearance improved for all participants. Two participants improved the symmetry of muscle strength. The initial three times weekly aerobic exercise intervention phase (B1) showed some evidence of overtraining effects.
CONCLUSIONS: The use of aerobic exercise, while maintaining the HR at appropriate levels, may aid in increasing the strength of the lower extremity muscles, decrease the amount of energy required to ambulate, improve gross motor function and improve self-perception for some adolescents with spastic cerebral palsy.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Physical therapists might consider fitness programs for adolescents with spastic cerebral palsy by familiarizing them with typical exercise equipment at school or in the community. Life long fitness habits formed at a young age begin with experience, success and satisfaction derived from the benefits of a good exercise program.