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European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2012 March;48(1):135-45


lingua: Inglese

Cycling induced by functional electrical stimulation in children affected by cerebral palsy: case report

Trevisi E. 1, Gualdi S. 1, De Conti C. 1, Salghetti A. 1, Martinuzzi A. 1, Pedrocchi A. 2, Ferrante S. 2

1 “F. Fabbri” Posture and Movement Analysis Laboratory, “E. Medea” Scientific Institute, Conegliano Research Centre, Conegliano, Treviso, Italy; 2 NeuroEngineering and medicAl Robotics Laboratory, Bioengineering Department, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy


BACKGROUND: Recently, the efficacy of functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycling have been demonstrated on the improvement of strength and motor control in adults with stroke. FES-cycling, providing a repetitive goal-oriented task, could facilitate cortical reorganization and utilization of residual cortico-spinal pathways. These benefits could be more enhanced in children because of the greater plasticity and flexibility of their central nervous system.
AIM: The aim of the present case report study was to explore the feasibility of FES-cycling in children with cerebral palsy (CP) and to provide a set of instrumental measures able to evaluate the effects of this novel treatment on cycling and walking ability.
DESIGN: Interventional study.
SETTING AND POPULATION: Two ambulant outpatient children with diplegic CP were recruited by the “E. Medea” Scientific Institute.
METHODS: Patients followed a FES-cycling treatment for 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week for 7 weeks. Pre and post treatment tests were performed, namely clinical measures and electromyographic, kinematic and oxygen expenditure analysis during gait and cycling.
RESULTS: The treatment was safe, feasible and well accepted by the 2 children. After treatment both patients achieved a more symmetrical muscular strategy during voluntary cycling and gait and a significant reduction of muscle co-contractions during cycling. These improvements were corroborated by a decrease in oxygen expenditure during the post test for one of the two children, the less impaired, implying a better exploiting of bi-articular muscles.
CONCLUSION AND CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: FES-cycling is feasible and safe and it may be an alternative rehabilitation method for diplegic CP patients. The set of instrumental measurements proposed seems to be a valuable tool for functional assessment to identify subclinical anomalies and improvements on cycling and gait in CP patients.

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