Background: Muscle weakness is one of the most prevalent symptoms in children with cerebral palsy (CP). Although recent studies show that functional power training can improve strength and functional capacity in young children with CP, effects on specific gait parameters have not previously been reported.
Research question: What are the effects of functional power training on gait in children with CP? Specifically, we investigated effects of training on gait kinematics and spatiotemporal parameters, and whether these were dependent on walking speed.
Methods: Ten children with CP (age 5-10 years, GMFCS I-II) participated in a functional power training program. At the start and end of the program, children underwent 3D gait analysis on a treadmill at a gradual range of walking speeds (70-175% of their comfortable walking speed). Multilevel (linear mixed model) analysis was used to evaluate effects pre-post training at different walking velocities.
Results: Although children's self-chosen comfortable walking speed improved (0.71 +/- 0.25 to 0.85 +/- 0.25 m/s, p <.05), effects on gait kinematics at similar speed were limited and only exceeded statistical and clinically meaningful thresholds when children walked at higher walking speed. At fast speeds, improvements up to 5 degrees were found in knee and hip extension during stance (p <.01).
Significance: This study demonstrates that gait kinematics can improve after functional power training, but the magnitude of effects is dependent on walking speed. In this light, improvements are underestimated when evaluating gait at pre-training comfortable walking speed only.
- Muscle weakness
- MUSCLE STRENGTH
- WALKING ABILITY