Objective: To examine the potential role of treadmill training with partial body weight support in nonambulatory children with cerebral palsy.
Study design: Open, nonrandomized, baseline-treatment study.
Setting: An outpatient rehabilitation clinic.
Subjects: Ten children with cerebral palsy. Six children (group A) were nonambulatory, and four children (group B) either required continuous physical help (two cases) or were able to walk short distances with a stand-by or independently (one case each).
Intervention: Three months of additional treadmill training, three times a week, 25 minutes a session.
Main outcome measures: Functional Ambulation Categories, standing and walking section of the Gross Motor Function Measure, assessed at two baseline measurements 6 and 3 weeks before the study onset, at the beginning, and at the end of therapy.
Results: Measurements during baseline and at the study onset did not differ. During therapy, the mean Functional Ambulation Category improved significantly from 1.1 to 1.9 (p<.05). The sum score of the standing section of the Gross Motor Function Measure increased by 47% (p<.05). The walking section score increased by 50% (p<.01). Of the six nonambulant children in group A, transfer abilities improved in four, one child could walk short distances independently, and two children could walk with continuous physical support after therapy. Of group B, one child could climb stairs independently, three children only needed verbal support while walking, and all subjects could then stand up arm-free after therapy.
Conclusions: Treadmill training with partial body weight support is a promising treatment technique in nonambulatory children with cerebral palsy.