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Disabil Rehabil. 2014 Feb 24. [Epub ahead of print]

"Strong and steady": a community-based strength and balance exercise group for children with cerebral palsy.

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  • 1Division of Research and Innovation, Cerebral Palsy League , Brisbane , Australia and.


Abstract Purpose: This study investigated the effect of an eight-week community-based strength and balance exercise group for children with cerebral palsy (CP). Method: Ten children with CP participated in the study (8-15 years; six male; GMFCS I = 6, II = 4; five diplegia; five hemiplegia). Muscle strength was assessed using dynamometry and functional strength tests (seated throw, distance jump, vertical jump). Balance was assessed using the Bruninks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (MABC), lateral and forward reach tests and the Timed-up and Go. Results: Muscle strength improved in dominant side elbow flexors, hip abductors, ankle dorsiflexors and ankle plantarflexors (p = 0.018-0.042). Functional strength improved in seated throw (t = 2.7; p = 0.024), distance jump (t =  -2.8; p = 0.025) and lateral step-up (p < 0.05). Balance improved on the MABC (t = 2.4; p = 0.040), lateral (p < 0.05) and forward reach (p < 0.05). Conclusion: This feasibility study translated research into sustainable practice, showing that a community-based, low dose, group exercise program can improve the balance and strength of children with CP within current funding capacity. Implications for Rehabilitation It has been known that strength and balance training in the clinical research setting with specialized equipment is effective for children with CP, but this study demonstrates the translation of research into clinical practice in a low-cost, low-dose group program. Significant gains in both muscle strength and balance can be achieved in an eight-week community-based gym group using simple equipment.

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