Effects of an Off-Axis Pivoting Elliptical Training Program on Gait Function in Persons With Spastic Cerebral Palsy: A Preliminary Study

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Abstract

This preliminary study examined the effects of off-axis elliptical training on reducing transverse-plane gait deviations and improving gait function in 8 individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) (15.5 ± 4.1 years) who completed an training program using a custom-made elliptical trainer that allows transverse-plane pivoting of the footplates during exercise. Lower-extremity off-axis control during elliptical exercise was evaluated by quantifying the root-mean-square and maximal angular displacement of the footplate pivoting angle. Lower-extremity pivoting strength was assessed. Gait function and balance were evaluated using 10-m walk test, 6-minute-walk test, and Pediatric Balance Scale. Toe-in angles during gait were quantified. Participants with CP demonstrated a significant decrease in the pivoting angle (root mean square and maximal angular displacement; effect size, 1.00–2.00) and increase in the lower-extremity pivoting strength (effect size = 0.91–1.09) after training. Reduced 10-m walk test time (11.9 ± 3.7 seconds vs. 10.8 ± 3.0 seconds; P = 0.004; effect size = 1.46), increased Pediatric Balance Scale score (43.6 ± 12.9 vs. 45.6 ± 10.8; P = 0.042; effect size = 0.79), and decreased toe-in angle (3.7 ± 10.5 degrees vs. 0.7 ± 11.7 degrees; P = 0.011; effect size = 1.22) were observed after training. We present an intervention to challenge lower-extremity off-axis control during a weight-bearing and functional activity for individuals with CP. Our preliminary findings suggest that this intervention was effective in enhancing off-axis control, gait function, and balance and reducing in-toeing gait in persons with CP.

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