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The Effects of Body Weight Support Treadmill Training on the Gait and Function of a Child with Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy

1 May 2004


Background: Within the last decade, studies have shown body weight support treadmill training (BWSTT) to effectively improve neurologically impaired gait patterns in patients with spinal cord injury, stroke, Parkinson's disease, and traumatic brain injury. To date, only three research studies on this intervention using subjects diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) have been published.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to further. investigate BWSTT effectiveness on the gait pattern and function of a child with CP

Methods: A single subject design (ABA withdrawal) was conducted with an 11 year old male with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. The intervention of BWSTT was performed twice a week for eight weeks. Gait parameters (velocity, cadence, stride length, single limb support time, degrees of toe in/out) were assessed using the GAITRite® gait mat. Function was assessed with the Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI) and Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM). Energy expenditure of gait was determined using the Energy Expenditure Index (EEl). Data was analayzed using the two-standard deviation band method.

Results: Statistically significant changes in degrees of toe in were demonstrated by the subject during the intervention phase while ambulating with and without solid AFOs. During the follow-up phase, significant changes during ambulation with AFOs were found in cadence, single support time, and degrees of toe in/out. Without AFOs, the subject's velocity, stride length, single support time, and degrees of toe in/out exhibited statistically significant changes. The subject showed improvement in his scores on both the GMFM and PEDI. No significant changes in the subject's energy expenditure were found as measured by the EEL Discussion and

Conclusion: Although statistical changes in the subject's gait over ground were found, the improvements were not clinically significant. The actual effect of BWSTT on the subject's gait and function could not be accurately assessed due to several confounding factors.


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