Meta-analysis of the effect of strengthening interventions in individuals with cerebral palsy

Res Dev Disabil. 2014 Feb;35(2):239-49. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2013.10.021. Epub 2013 Nov 27.


This study aimed to investigate the evidence that strengthening interventions can improve muscle strength and activity in individuals with cerebral palsy. The search focused on studies that employed strength training for children with cerebral palsy for which six electronic databases were used to extract literature published from 2001 to 2012. The key terms used in these searches were combined strength training, strengthening, weight training, weight lifting, resistance, and cerebral palsy. The quality of each study was assessed using the PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database) scale. Thirteen randomized controlled trial studies were selected and divided into categories according to program type, mode, and outcome measures. The overall effect sizes of each study and types of strengthening were large. Strengthening exercise improved muscle strength to a greater degree, when practiced 3 times per week in 40-50 min sessions than in other categories of session length, and greater improvement was observed in younger children than in older. The effect size of the activities and variables related to gait, except for gait endurance, were medium to large. The effect size of individual muscles was large, but the effect sizes for ankle plantar flexor, hip abductor/adductor, and extensor were insignificant. Strengthening interventions are useful for increasing muscle strength in individuals with cerebral palsy, specifically in youth and children, and optimal exercise consisted of 40- to 50-min sessions performed 3 times per week. Although strengthening interventions may improve activities, including gait, more studies that are rigorous are needed to determine the contributions to gross motor function.

Keywords: Cerebral palsy; Meta-analysis; Strengthening.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / complications
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / etiology
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome