Ambulatory activity of children with cerebral palsy: which characteristics are important?

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2012 May;54(5):436-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2012.04251.x. Epub 2012 Mar 13.


Aim: To assess ambulatory activity of children with cerebral palsy (CP), aged 7 to 13 years, and identify associated characteristics.

Method: Sixty-two children with spastic CP (39 males, 23 females; mean age 10y 1mo, SD 1y 8mo; age range 7-13y), classified as Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) levels I to III, participated. Ambulatory activity was measured during 1 week with a StepWatch activity monitor as steps per day, and time spent at medium and high step rates. Multiple linear regression analyses were performed following a backward selection procedure until only independent variables with p<0.05 remained in the model. Ambulatory activity outcome parameters served as dependent variables, and disease, personal, and environmental characteristics as independent variables. Ambulatory activity was corrected for body height.

Results: Children took more steps during school days (5169 steps, SD 1641) than during weekend days (4158 steps, SD 2048; p<0.001). Higher GMFCS level, bilateral CP, and higher age were associated with lower ambulatory activity on school days (R(2) ranged from 43-53%), whereas bilateral CP, higher age, and no sport club participation were associated with lower ambulatory activity in the weekend (R(2) ranged from 21-42%). Correcting for body height decreased the association with age.

Interpretation: Interventions should focus at increasing physical activity at the weekend for children with bilateral spastic CP.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Height
  • Cerebral Palsy / diagnosis
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Education, Special
  • Female
  • Fitness Centers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Reference Values
  • Resistance Training
  • Social Environment
  • Walking*