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A new study suggests that children with cerebral palsy who add core exercises into their lives can “significantly benefit.”
The study, published in the “Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation,” focused on children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy. This form of cerebral palsy affects movement on one side of the body. It’s the most common type of cerebral palsy and affects a child’s balance, posture, movement, and walking abilities.
Scientists with the study examined how beneficial it would be to have children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy incorporate core exercises into their schedule. Core exercises consist of developing and moving the core muscles in the body, which include the muscles around the pelvis and the trunk of the lower body. These muscles are needed for walking and movement.
The study consisted of 17 boys and 13 girls, all with cerebral palsy, between the ages of 10-12. Each child was randomly assigned to physical therapy programs. Some programs included core training while other programs did not.
Four tests were assigned during the study, which measured trunk muscles’ endurance time. The Biodex Gait Trainer 2M was used to measure walking speed, length of each step taken, and the affected side of the body’s time of support.
After eight weeks in the physical therapy programs, both groups of children showed improvement in posture and movement. Yet, the group that had core training added into their programs showed significant improvement.
Further, although all groups improved, the study indicated that only in the groups where core exercises were incorporated did the children show remarkable improvement of the lateral trunk muscles’ endurance time. This suggests that physical therapy alone does not offer much benefit in working the lateral trunk muscles.
“Only group B showed significant improvement in the endurance time of lateral trunk muscles. There were post-treatment statistically significant differences between both groups in favor of group B regarding all measured variables” the study reads.
A stable and strong core may contribute to more efficient use of the lower limbs which could enhance the [patients’] walking ability and velocity.”
More studies are needed to determine the initial results, with longer training times included.
“Future studies investigating the effect of core stability exercises within the context of occupational therapy for children with [cerebral palsy] may be useful to direct the clinical practice,” researchers wrote.
About Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy
Hemiplegic cerebral palsy typically occurs due to damage to the brain’s hemisphere. According to the Children’s Hemiplegic and Stroke Association, the condition’s name is derived from the medical word, hemiparesis, which means “weakness on one side of the body.”
If a the right side of the child’s brain is damaged, it will affect the left side of the body. In turn, if a child’s left side of the brain is damaged, it will affect the right side of the body.
Symptom of hemiplegic cerebral palsy include the following (Keep in mind that not all children will exhibit the same symptoms):
- One hand balled in a fist
- Poor coordination
- Problems with walking
- Balance issues
- Difficulties with fine motor tasks
- Delayed developmental milestones
To learn more about different types of cerebral palsy, including treatment options, symptoms and causes, visit our page, Types of Cerebral Palsy.