Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a treadmill program on gross motor function, walking speed, and spasticity of ambulatory adolescents with spastic cerebral palsy (diplegia and tetraplegia).
Design: In this randomized controlled trial, 22 adolescents (13-19 yrs old) from a special school for children with physical disabilities were randomly allocated to the experimental and control training groups. The experimental training group underwent a treadmill program without body weight support at a comfortable speed. The control group received treatment with conventional physiotherapy, which consisted of three sets of exercises with mat activities, balance, gait training, and functional gross motor activities. The program lasted 12 wks with a frequency of three times per week for both groups. Pretest and posttest measurements of self-selected walking speed, gross motor function, and spasticity were conducted.
Results: The analysis of covariance findings examining posttest differences between groups were significant with respect to self-selected walking speed (F = 8.545, P = 0.000) and gross motor function (F = 9.088, P = 0.007), whereas no significance was found for spasticity.
Conclusions: Treadmill training may improve the walking speed and gross motor function of adolescents with spastic cerebral palsy, without adverse effects on spasticity.