Can a Lifestyle Intervention Improve Physical Fitness in Adolescents and Young Adults With Spastic Cerebral Palsy? A Randomized Controlled Trial

      Abstract

      Objective

      To evaluate both the short- and long-term effectiveness of a lifestyle intervention on physical fitness in adolescents and young adults with cerebral palsy (CP).

      Design

      Single-blind, randomized controlled trial.

      Setting

      University hospitals and rehabilitation clinics.

      Participants

      Adolescents and young adults (N=57) with spastic CP classified in Gross Motor Function Classification System levels I through IV; of these, 42 completed the study.

      Intervention

      A 6-month lifestyle intervention consisting of physical fitness training combined with counseling sessions focused on physical behavior and sports participation.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Physical fitness, including measures of cardiopulmonary fitness, muscle strength, and body composition.

      Results

      Favorable short- and medium-term effects were found for peak oxygen consumption, oxygen consumption, and load on the anaerobic threshold and waist circumference. Favorable long-term effects were found for sum of skinfolds, systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol.

      Conclusions

      This exploratory study showed that the lifestyle intervention was effective in improving cardiopulmonary fitness and body composition. Effects of body composition were maintained in the long term. However, the intervention needs to be optimized to increase muscle strength and for long-term retention of effects on aerobic capacity.

      Keywords

      List of abbreviations:

      AT ( anaerobic threshold), CP ( cerebral palsy), CPET ( cardiopulmonary exercise testing), GEE ( generalized estimating equation), GMFCS ( Gross Motor Function Classification System), PA ( physical activity), Vo2peak ( peak oxygen consumption)
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