To evaluate the effects of an 8-month training program with standardized exercises on aerobic and anaerobic capacity in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy.
Pragmatic randomized controlled clinical trial with blinded outcome evaluation between July 2005 and October 2006.
Participants were recruited from 4 schools for special education in the Netherlands.
A total of 86 children with cerebral palsy (aged 7-18 years) classified at Gross Motor Function Classification System level I or II.
Participants were randomly assigned to either the training group (n = 32) or the control group (n = 33). The training group met twice per week for 45 minutes to circuit train in a group format that focused on aerobic and anaerobic exercises.
Main Outcome Measures
Aerobic capacity was assessed by the 10-m shuttle run test, and anaerobic capacity was assessed by the Muscle Power Sprint Test. Secondary outcome measures included agility, muscle strength, self-competence, gross motor function, participation level, and health-related quality of life.
A significant training effect was found for aerobic (P < .001) and anaerobic capacity (P = .004). A significant effect was also found for agility (P < .001), muscle strength (P < .001), and athletic competence (P = .005). The intensity of participation showed a similar effect for formal (P < .001), overall (P = .002), physical (P = .005), and skilled-based activities (P < .001). On the health-related quality of life measure, a significant improvement was found for the motor (P = .001), autonomy (P = .02), and cognition (P = .04) domains.
An exercise training program improves physical fitness, participation level, and quality of life in children with cerebral palsy when added to standard care.
isrctn.org Identifier: ISRCTN77274716