Effects of Participation in Sports Programs on Walking Ability and Endurance Over Time in Children With Cerebral Palsy

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ObjectiveChildren with cerebral palsy may benefit from maintaining a high level of physical fitness similar to typically developing children especially in terms of long-term physical performance, although in practice this is often difficult. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of participation in sports programs on walking ability and endurance over time.DesignA retrospective cohort study included participants with cerebral palsy, aged 6 to 20 yrs, who attended a summer sports program from 2004 to 2012. There were 256 participant sessions with pre/post data recorded. The participants consisted of a total of 97 children (mean age [SD] = 11.4 [3.1] yrs), many of whom attended multiple programs throughout the years. Programs were held 6 hrs/d, 5 d/wk for up to 4 wks. Outcome measures included the Timed Up and Go, modified 6-min walk, and 25-ft walk/run.ResultsThe results showed significant improvements in the Timed Up and Go, modified 6-min walk distance and 25-ft walk/run over time. Children in Gross Motor Classification System level III made the largest gains.ConclusionsWalking ability and endurance seem to improve after participation in an intensive summer sports programs. Higher frequency of program attendance resulted in significant improvements in the Timed Up and Go.To Claim CME CreditsComplete the self-assessment activity and evaluation online at http://www.physiatry.org/JournalCMECME ObjectivesUpon completion of this article, the reader should be able to: (1) Discuss the importance of physical activity at the participation level (sports programs) for children with cerebral palsy; (2) Contrast the changes in walking ability and endurance for children in Gross Motor Function Classification System level I, II, and III after sports programs; and (3) Identify the impact of higher frequency of sports program attendance over time on walking ability.LevelAdvancedAccreditationThe Association of Academic Physiatrists is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.The Association of Academic Physiatrists designates this Journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 0.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

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