Modulation of gait inter-limb coordination in children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy after intensive upper extremity intervention.


Department of Biobehavioral Sciences, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 W 120th St., New York, NY, 10027, USA. [Email]


Motor function difficulties associated with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy (USCP) impact gait inter-limb coordination between the upper and lower extremities. Two motor learning based, upper extremity treatments, Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) and Hand Arm Bimanual Therapy (HABIT), have resulted in improvements in coordination and function between the arms in children with USCP. However, no study has investigated whether coordination between the upper and lower extremities improves after either intervention during a functional task, such as walking. Gait analysis was performed before and after participation in intensive (3 weeks, 90 h total) CIMT and HABIT interventions to determine if intensive upper extremity treatment can improve inter-limb coordination between the upper and lower extremities of children (n = 20, 6-17 years old) with USCP. While upper extremity clinical evaluations indicated hand function improvements, there were no changes in lower extremity parameters for either treatment. However, we found that 10 out of 11 children with a 2:1 arm swing-to-stride ratio at pre-test improved to a 1:1 ratio at post-test. Temporal synchronicity of contralateral limbs, swing displacement of the more affected arm, and arm swing side symmetry unexpectedly decreased. Positive changes in coordination were observed in children who demonstrated poor coordination during walking at pre-test, yet the changes were not robust. Principle component analysis did not indicate changes in limb coupling. While more coordinated, gross-motor training of the upper and lower extremity may reveal greater changes, lower extremity gait patterns were not improved in high functioning children with USCP.


Cerebral palsy,Children,Coordination,Gait,Intervention,

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