Children with cerebral palsy who undergo intense physical therapy several times per week experience enhanced progress in their gross motor function, suggests a study published recently in Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics.

In the study, researchers collected information from the Cerebral Palsy Follow-up Program (CPOP) and The Cerebral Palsy Register of Norway (CPRN), which together comprise data on 90% of children with cerebral palsy in Norway. The team analyzed the clinical records of 442 children aged 2 to 12 years, of whom 256 were boys and 186 girls; they were followed for a mean period of 2.9 years.

Children who underwent three or more sessions per week of physical therapy, or participated in an intensive physical therapy program, were the ones who experienced enhanced progress on their gross motor function during the study period, explains a news story from Cerebral Palsy News Today.

This positive effect from the training is dependent on the number of training periods, according to the researchers. While one period with intensive training enhanced gross motor progress by 3.3 percentiles, two periods could enhance gross motor progress by 6.6 percentiles.

Intellectual disability was found to be a strong negative prognostic factor, as it was associated with lower gross motor function abilities—on average, 24.2 percentiles below that reported on others. Also, eating problems and ankle contractures negatively impacted long-term progress of gross motor function in these children, the story continues.

“Some factors have shown to benefit short-term gross motor progress, but possible long-term influences are still unclear, and longitudinal studies based on large cohorts of children have been requested,” researchers write.

“Intensive training enhances gross motor progress in all children with cerebral palsy … the results give reasons to recommend intensive training independent of intellectual ability or any of the other factors included,” they conclude.

[Source: Cerebral Palsy News Today]