Individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) experience many negative symptoms such a poor coordination and perception as well as other secondary musculoskeletal problems. Among the symptoms associated with CP, muscle weakness may have the most significant effect on function. However, many treatments used to help the patients may not be effective in reducing muscle weakness associated with CP. Based on the literature, power training could be the most effective physical rehabilitation to overcome muscle weakness for individuals with CP.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this project was to test the effectiveness of a power training intervention for individuals with CP.
METHODS: The study employed a randomized, crossover design. Using rolling recruitment; participants (N = 11) were randomly assigned to either the rest-first or the training-first group. All participants in the training-first group underwent a 6-week training program, three days per week targeting upper extremity muscles. After six weeks, participants in this group rested for six weeks. Participants in the rest-first group followed the sequence of resting six weeks and then training six weeks. The training was administered on the Concept 2 SkiergTM (Concept2, Inc., Morrisville, VT 05661) either at the participants’ home or school. Investigators used the SkiergTM to simulate a unilateral, overhand throwing exercise following power training guidelines to individuals with CP. Each SkiergTM was mounted with a performance monitor to assess average power output (Pavg) of a training session. Pavg was recorded over the six week training period for both groups.
RESULTS: Over six weeks, each participant completed at least 15 training sessions. Using time as a factor, Pavg increased with the number of training sessions (Nt) following a linear fashion, Pavg = 1.79+0.22*Nt W (p = .001). When comparing the first and last full training sessions, Pavg increased from 2.56±3.39 to 4.92±5.42 W (paired samples t-test; p = .021).
CONCLUSION: Power training may offer unique advantages to increase power output among young people with CP, which could lead to improved function.