n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Effect of physical exercise programme on gross motor function of children with cerebral palsy : physical activity and health - : physical activity and health

Supplement 1
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


Sedentary individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) are often at increased risk for muscle weakness, decreased cardiovascular and muscular endurance, impaired circulation, limited functional strength, multiple system problems, lower bone density, increased fractures, lower self-esteem, and reduced independence. Regular physical activity for individuals with CP provides numerous benefits which include: an improved sense of wellness and body image, increased capacity to perform activities of daily living as well as reduction of the severity of some symptoms such as spasticity and athetosis. Other recognised benefits of physical activity for those with CP include increased bone density, increased muscular strength, improved cardiorespiratory fitness, increased motor mobility, increased self-esteem, decreased depression and anxiety, and improved personal and caregiver satisfaction. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the gross motor function would improve in children with spastic CP through a physical activity programme. The participants were 10 children aged 13 to 18 years with mild/moderate CP. They were randomly assigned to two groups, an experimental group (n=5) and a control group (n=5).The experimental group underwent twelve weeks of a physical exercise programme and the control group did not participate in any organised exercise programme. Basic gross motor abilities in daily situations were studied using the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM 88). Groups involved in the exercise programme experienced statistically significant improvement in GMFM 88 scores after treatment. GMFM Total Score (Dimensions A-E) increased 12.6% (< 0.000) after 12 weeks. GMFM Dimension A (Lying and rolling) increased 15.32% after 12 weeks (< 0.001), Dimension B (Sitting) increased 18.23% (< 0.01), Dimension D (standing) increased 26.37% (< 0.006). This suggests that exercise programmes may improve gross motor function in children with CP, which may reduce the degree of motor disability. Further investigation with larger groups is needed to investigate this further, especially in children with more severe disabilities. The results indicate that physical activity programme needs to be incorporated as an intervention strategy for children with CP.

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