Effect of body-weight suspension training versus treadmill training on gross motor abilities of children with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy

Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2016 Jun;52(3):356-63. Epub 2016 Feb 4.


Background: Suspension training and treadmill training are commonly used for promoting functional gross motor skills in children with cerebral palsy.

Aim: The aim of this study was to compare the effect of body-weight suspension training versus treadmill training on gross motor functional skills.

Design: Assessor-blinded, randomized, controlled intervention study.

Setting: Outpatient rehabilitation facility.

Population: Twenty children with spastic diplegia (7 boys and 13 girls) in the age ranged from 6 to 8 years old were randomly allocated into two equal groups. All children were assessed at baseline, after 18-session and after 36-session.

Methods: During the twelve-week outpatient rehabilitation program, both groups received traditional therapeutic exercises. Additionally, one group received locomotor training using the treadmill while the other group received locomotor training using body-weight suspension through the dynamic spider cage. Assessment included dimensions "D" standing and "E" walking of the gross motor function measure, in addition to the 10-m Walking Test and the five times sit to stand test. Training was applied three times per week for twelve consecutive weeks.

Results: No significant difference was found in standing or walking ability for measurements taken at baseline or after 18-session of therapy. Measurements taken at 36-session showed that suspension training achieved significantly (P<0.05) higher average score than treadmill training for dimension D as well as for dimension E. No significant difference was found between suspension training and treadmill training regarding walking speed or sit to stand transitional skills.

Conclusions: Body-weight suspension training is effective in improving walking and locomotor capabilities in children with spastic diplegia. After three month suspension training was superior to treadmill training.

Clinical rehabilitation impact: Body-weight suspension training promotes adequate postural stability, good balance control, and less exertion which facilitates efficient and safe gait.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Walking