Purpose: To assess the effectiveness of strengthening exercises of the lower limbs on improvement of muscle strength and gait function.
Method: Those included were diagnosed as spastic diplegic or hemiplegic type of cerebral palsy (CP) and verified as grade 2 or 3 of the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS). Participants were divided into an experimental group (n = 9) or a control group (n = 8). The experimental group completed a 5-week strengthening program and the control group took part in conventional physical therapy. Muscle tone and strength of lower limb, Gross Motor Function Measure, lateral step up, squat to stand, and three dimensional gait analysis were tested at pre-training, post-training, and 6 week follow up.
Results: Maximal hip extensor strength, and number of squat to stand were significantly increased at post-training and 6 weeks follow up in the experimental group compared with the control group. GMFM score D and E significantly improved in the experimental group at post-training. The experimental group demonstrated significant increase of gait speed and stride length and decrease of double support phase at post-training and 6 weeks follow up.
Conclusions: Strengthening exercises could be a useful method to improve gait function of patients with spastic CP.