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Robotic Resistance Treadmill Training Improves Locomotor Function in Children With Cerebral Palsy: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2017 11;98(11):2126-2133



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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether applying controlled resistance forces to the legs during the swing phase of gait may improve the efficacy of treadmill training as compared with applying controlled assistance forces in children with cerebral palsy (CP).

DESIGN: Randomized controlled study.

SETTING: Research unit of a rehabilitation hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: Children with spastic CP (N=23; mean age, 10.6y; range, 6-14y; Gross Motor Function Classification System levels, I-IV).

INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomly assigned to receive controlled assistance (n=11) or resistance (n=12) loads applied to the legs at the ankle. Participants underwent robotic treadmill training 3 times a week for 6 weeks (18 sessions). A controlled swing assistance/resistance load was applied to both legs starting from the toe-off to mid-swing phase of gait during training.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Outcome measures consisted of overground walking speed, 6-minute walk distance, and Gross Motor Function Measure scores and were assessed pre and post 6 weeks of training and 8 weeks after the end of training.

RESULTS: After 6 weeks of treadmill training in participants from the resistance training group, fast walking speed and 6-minute walk distance significantly improved (18% and 30% increases, respectively), and 6-minute walk distance was still significantly greater than that at baseline (35% increase) 8 weeks after the end of training. In contrast, overground gait speed and 6-minute walk distance had no significant changes after robotic assistance training.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of the present study indicated that robotic resistance treadmill training is more effective than assistance training in improving locomotor function in children with CP.

Author List

Wu M, Kim J, Gaebler-Spira DJ, Schmit BD, Arora P


Brian Schmit PhD Professor in the Biomedical Engineering department at Marquette University

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Cerebral Palsy
Pilot Projects
Resistance Training
Walking Speed