Energy Efficiency in Children With Myelomeningocele During Acute Use of Assistive Devices: A Pilot Study

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Due to increased metabolic demands during walking, ∼50% of children with myelomeningocele transition to wheelchair use during adolescence/early adulthood. The purpose of our pilot study involving children with myelomeningocele was to determine: (a) energy expenditure needs during acute use of common assistive devices and (b) if walking poles are a feasible assistive device. Oxygen uptake was recorded for eight (5–12 years old) children in four conditions: independent, walker, crutches, and poles. Acute pole use did not significantly differ from independent walking net energy consumption or cost. Participants consumed more energy while walking with the walker than independently. Our pilot results suggest that (a) acute use of common assistive devices while walking increases energy consumption and cost versus independent and (b) poles are feasible assistive devices, resulting in slightly increased energy requirements. Poles may have provided “just enough” support with minimal change in energy requirements for our participants and, with practice, may enable children with myelomeningocele to remain community ambulators.

Sansom is with the Dept. of Physical Therapy, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI. Ulrich is retired from the the School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Sansom (sanso1jk@cmich.edu) is corresponding author.
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