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Walking and Fitness Improvements in a Child With Diplegic Cerebral Palsy Following Motor-Assisted Elliptical Intervention

Burnfield, Judith M., PT, PhD; Cesar, Guilherme M., PT, PhD; Buster, Thad W., MS; Irons, Sonya L., PT, DPT, CCS; Pfeifer, Chase M., PhD

doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000541

Purpose: To quantify effects of motor-assisted elliptical (Intelligently Controlled Assistive Rehabilitation Elliptical [ICARE]) training on walking and fitness of a child with cerebral palsy (CP).

Key Points: A 12-year-old boy with walking limitations due to spastic diplegic CP (Gross Motor Function Classification System II) participated in 24 sessions of primarily moderate- to vigorous-intensity ICARE exercise. Fitness improvements were evidenced clinically across sessions by the child's capacity to train for longer periods, at faster speeds, and while overriding motor's assistance. Postintervention, the child walked faster with greater stability and endurance and more rapidly completed the modified Time Up and Go test.

Conclusion: The child's fitness and gait improved following engagement in a moderate- to vigorous-intensity gait-like exercise intervention.

Recommendations for Clinical Practice: Integration of moderate- to vigorous-intensity motor-assisted elliptical training can promote simultaneous gains in fitness and function for children with CP.

To quantify effects of motor-assisted elliptical training on walking and fitness in a child with cerebral palsy.

Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Correspondence: Judith M. Burnfield, PT, PhD, Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals, 5401 South St, Lincoln, NE 68506 (

Grant Support: The contents of this work were developed under a grant initially received from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Department of Education (H133G130274; Principal Investigator: Burnfield) and subsequently funded through a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, Administration for Community Living (90IF0060; Principal Investigator: Burnfield). The contents of the article do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education or the Administration for Community Living, and endorsement by the federal government should not be assumed.

Judith M. Burnfield and Thad W. Buster are the inventors of the patented motor-assisted elliptical technology. The patented technology has been licensed to Sports Art for commercial distribution. Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals receives royalties and a portion of these royalties is shared with inventors. For the remaining authors, no conflicts of interest were declared.

Copyright © 2018 Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association