The Effect of Functional Home-Based Strength Training Programs on the Mechano-Morphological Properties of the Plantar Flexor Muscle-Tendon Unit in Children With Spastic Cerebral Palsy

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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  • 1 University of Graz
  • 2 Medical University of Graz
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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of functional progressive resistance training (PRT) and high-intensity circuit training (HICT) on the mechano-morphological properties of the plantar flexor muscle-tendon unit in children with spastic cerebral palsy. Methods: Twenty-two children (12.8 [2.6] y old, Gross Motor Function Classification System levels I/II = 19/3) were randomly assigned to either a PRT group or an HICT group. The interventions consisted of functional lower limb exercises, which were performed at home 3 times per week for 8 weeks. Measurements at baseline, preintervention, postintervention, and follow-up were taken to assess ankle joint range of motion and the properties of the gastrocnemius medialis, vastus lateralis, rectus femoris, and Achilles tendon (eg, thickness, strength, stiffness). Results: Despite a nonsignificant increase in active torque in the HICT group, neither gastrocnemius medialis morphology nor Achilles tendon properties were significantly altered after the interventions. Vastus lateralis thickness increased following PRT only. Conclusions: Functional home-based strength training did not lead to significant changes at the muscular level in children with cerebral palsy. We therefore assume that a more specific stimulus of higher intensity combined with a longer training duration might be necessary to evoke changes in muscles and tendons in individuals with cerebral palsy.

Kruse and Tilp are with the Institute of Sports Science, University of Graz, Graz, Austria. Schranz and Svehlik are with the Department of Paediatric Surgery, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria.

Kruse (annikakruse1@gmx.de) is corresponding author.
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