New Review Published: Exercise Interventions for Cerebral Palsy

Exercise Interventions for Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurodevelopmental disorder resulting from an injury to the developing brain. It is the most common form of childhood disability and primary impairments associated with CP include reduced muscle strength and reduced cardiorespiratory fitness, resulting in difficulties performing activities such as dressing, walking and negotiating stairs. Exercise is defined as a planned, structured and repetitive activity that aims to improve fitness, and it is a commonly used intervention for people with CP.

The authors conclude that aerobic exercise may improve activity as indicated by motor function but does not appear to improve gait speed, walking endurance, participation or aerobic fitness among children with CP in the short or intermediate term. There is no research regarding the effect of aerobic exercise on participation or quality of life. Resistance training does not appear to improve motor function, gait speed or participation in the short or intermediate term, or quality of life in the short term, in children and adolescents with CP but may improve muscle strength. Mixed training does not improve motor function or gait speed but does improve participation in children and adolescents with CP in the short term.

No difference was found between aerobic and resistance training on motor function but a difference in muscle strength in the short term.

Although the evidence suggests that exercise might be safe for people with CP, only 16 trials (55%) included information on adverse events; these trials reported no serious adverse events. All of the studies we found had small numbers of participants, meaning that we cannot be sure the results are accurate.