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Physical, Functional and Neurological Effects of Two Lower Extremity Exercise Protocols in Children with Cerebral Palsy
The primary site for this study is the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center with Dr. Diane Damiano as the principal investigator. All study participants will be consented and enrolled at the primary site and all study procedures will be performed at the primary site. Our site participation is limited to study referral, imaging analyses, consultation on data analyses and manuscript preparation.
The primary objectives of this study are to:
- Characterize and compare lower extremity motor coordination in children with cerebral palsy (CP) across mobility levels and to children without CP
- Evaluate the effects of two home-based exercise programs on motor coordination, as well as other physical, functional and neurological outcomes in children with CP
We hypothesize children with CP will exhibit significant coordination deficits compared to those without CP and that each exercise program will lead to significant improvements in outcomes.
Objective 1 will include 60 ambulatory children with spastic diplegic CP (20 in each of three mobility levels) and 20 children without CP within the same age range. Forty (40) children with CP will participate in Objective 2; 20 in each exercise group.
In Objective 1, the multiple measures taken at a single point in time will be compared across the three CP and the control groups. Children with CP from Objective 1 will be invited consecutively to participate in the exercise program (Objective 2), until enrollment is complete.
Participation in Objective 2 lasts for 6 months. Subjects will be randomly assigned to use one of two novel lower extremity exercise devices: a motor-assisted cycle or an elliptical trainer. Children will exercise for 20 minutes, 5 days a week for 12 consecutive weeks.
The major goal of each is to increase the ability to cycle or step at a rapid pace (the target goal is 40 RPM), with resistance added once speed goals are attained and thereafter progressed gradually. The timing of the exercise period (immediate vs. delayed for 3 months) will also be randomly assigned allowing assessors to be masked to group assignment.
The primary outcome is the difference (Objective 1) or pre to post-exercise change (Objective 2) in coordination as measured by the fastest active (voluntary) cadence with each device. Additional coordination measures include cadence at free speed, variability in cadence, and EMG reciprocation vs. synchronization. Selective Control Assessment for the Lower extremity (SCALE), strength and spasticity tests and ultrasound measures of muscle size will be assessed at each time point. These will be compared across groups and before and after the two exercise programs. Functional outcomes include gait speed and two validated computer-based questionnaires. Neural outcomes include selected measures of gray and white matter connectivity as assessed with fcMRI and DTI, respectively.