Research News Flash
Individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) are at risk for physical inactivity, which can lead to a number of health-related secondary conditions. Adolescence is a critical life stage during which development of healthy lifestyle behaviors is important for future health.
As part of a larger study, this project examined the health-related physical fitness of adolescents and young adults with spastic CP. Participants had spastic unilateral or bilateral CP, were ambulatory, and were between the ages of 16 and 24. To assess level of health-related fitness, a number of measures were taken, including: cardiopulmonary fitness, muscle strength, body mass index, waist circumference, skinfolds, and lipid profile.
Data from 50 participants with CP, Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) Level I (n = 30) and Level II (n = 20), were analyzed and compared to reference data from youth and young adults without CP. In general, individuals with CP were found to be less fit than their able-bodied peers. GMFCS level had less of an effect on fitness outcomes than distribution of CP; specifically, individuals with unilateral CP had better fitness outcomes than those with bilateral CP.
During the important development period of adolescence and young adulthood it is critical that education and programs are offered to set the path for a healthier lifestyle and help minimize the cycle of de-conditioning so often seen in persons with CP.
Nooijen, C., Slaman, J., van der Slot, W., Stam, H., Roebroeck, M., & van den Berg-Emons,
R.; Learn2Move Research Group (2014). Health-related physical fitness of ambulatory
adolescents and young adults with spastic cerebral palsy. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 46(7), 642-647.