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Effects Of Whole Body Vibration Therapy and Treadmill Training With Children With Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy impacts more than 17 million people globally, being a developmental disability which generally happens when a part of the brain develops abnormally, or when it becomes damaged prior to birth or in the beginning stages of development.

In addition, It is an unfortunate disorder of movement and posture which affects one’s muscle tone, reflexes and movements, and leads to symptoms such asimpaired movement, floppiness and abnormal reflexes, unsteady walking, impaired posture and abnormal rigidity of the limbs. Furthermore, the muscle stiffness leads to a reduced range of motion in joints, and the weakness of certain muscles causes swallowing and vision problems.

In some patients, the symptoms affect only one part of the body, while in others it affects the entire body. The hearing and vision senses are affected, and seizures are common. Although intellectual disabilities may be present, they don’t affect all patients, so it is possible for cerebral palsy sufferers to show normal or near normal intellectual capacity.

The symptoms are permanent but non-progressive, meaning that the manifestations that are observed in the early stages tend to remain constant, and only some of them can be treated or improved with therapy. In most cases, the posture, movement, communication, socialization and daily living skills of the patients are affected.

The treatment choices for cerebral palsy usually depend on the severity of symptoms and on the area of the brain that is damaged. Furthermore, medications can be used for reducing the muscle weakness or tightness, and for improving their functional capacity as well.

Physical therapy can be recommended for improving the flexibility, range of motion and strength of the muscles, as well as for improving the patient’s posture and ability to perform daily tasks. In some cases, occupational therapy is necessary, while in others, the patient may require speech and language therapy.

Effects of Whole Body Vibration and Treadmill Training In Kids With Cerebral Palsy

In a study on children with cerebral palsy, the strength of muscles was reduced and the coordination of movements was also affected, so practicing conventional exercises as part of a physical therapy program may sometimes be too challenging and hard for a lot of patients. It is for this reasons, researchers are searching for alternative options for improving the muscle strength, balance and coordination of these patients.

In a most recent study conducted by German researchers, it’s been discovered that whole body vibration is acceptable and safe for toddlers with Cerebral Palsy, but it doesn’t lead to drastic improvements in gross motor function for this group of patients.

The 14-week Whole Body Vibration program involved 24 toddlers with an average age of 19 months, who were exposed to whole body vibration on a side-alternating machine, for improving the motor function. Ten 9-minute sessions were served weekly, for 14 weeks. Although there were improvements in the measured parameters, these were not statistically significant.

Yet, in another study, treadmill training was found to accelerate the attainment of walking skills and to decrease the amount of support used for walking in kids with cerebral palsy. This time the patients followed an intensive treadmill training program, combined with their daily physical therapy sessions.

Since cerebral palsy is a complicated disease that requires complex treatment, these therapies – treadmill training and whole body vibration therapy – could both be incorporated in personalized treatment plans for CP sufferers. Besides these interventions, drug therapy and surgery may be also required.

The overall treatment in cerebral palsy patients is to optimize mobility, maximize the independence of the sufferer and reduce pain, to prevent complications and enhance the social interactions.

Additionally, the available treatments aim to improve one’s ability to communicate and learn, and to improve the overall quality of life of Cerebral Palsy patients.

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