Physical activity in non-ambulatory toddlers with cerebral palsy

Res Dev Disabil. 2019 Jul:90:51-58. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2019.04.002. Epub 2019 May 4.


Background: Children with cerebral palsy are less likely to be physically active than their peers, however there is limited evidence regarding self-initiated physical activity in toddlers who are not able, or who may never be able, to walk.

Aims: The aim of this study was to measure self-initiated physical activity and its relationship to gross motor function and participation in non-ambulatory toddlers with cerebral palsy.

Methods and procedures: Participants were between the ages of 1-3 years. Physical activity during independent floor-play at home was recorded using a wearable tri-axial accelerometer worn on the child's thigh. The Gross Motor Function Measure-66 and the Child Engagement in Daily Life, a parent-reported questionnaire of participation, were administered.

Outcomes and results: Data were analyzed from the twenty participants who recorded at least 90 min of floor-play (mean: 229 min), resulting in 4598 total floor-play minutes. The relationship between physical activity and gross motor function was not statistically significant (r = 0.20; p = 0.39), nor were the relationships between physical activity and participation (r = 0.05-0.09; p = 0.71-0.84).

Conclusions and implications: The results suggest physical activity during floor-play is not related to gross motor function or participation in non-ambulatory toddlers with cerebral palsy. Clinicians and researchers should independently measure physical activity, gross motor function, and participation.

Keywords: Cerebral palsy; Gross motor function; Participation; Pediatrics; Physical activity; Rehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / methods
  • Cerebral Palsy* / diagnosis
  • Cerebral Palsy* / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Palsy* / psychology
  • Cerebral Palsy* / rehabilitation
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disabled Children / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise* / physiology
  • Exercise* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Motor Skills*
  • Patient Participation* / methods
  • Patient Participation* / psychology
  • Play and Playthings
  • Quality of Life*