Objective: Our prior magnetoencephalographic (MEG) investigations demonstrate that persons with cerebral palsy (CP) have weaker somatosensory cortical activity than neurotypical (NT) controls, which is associated with reduced muscular strength and mobility. Power training can improve lower extremity isokinetic strength, muscular power, and walking performance of youth with CP. Potentially, these clinically relevant improvements are partially driven by changes in somatosensory processing. The objective of this investigation was to determine if power training has complementary changes in muscular function and somatosensory cortical activity in youth with CP. Methods: A cohort of youth with CP (N = 11; age = 15.90 ± 1.1 years) and NT controls (N = 10; Age = 15.93 ± 2.48 years) participated in this investigation. Youth with CP underwent 24 power training sessions. Pre-post bilateral leg press 1-repetition maximum (1RM), peak power production, 10-m walking speed, and distance walked 1-min were used as outcome measures. MEG neuroimaging assessed the changes in somatosensory cortical activity while at rest. NT controls only underwent a baseline MEG assessment. Results: Youth with CP had a 56% increase in 1RM (p < 0.001), a 33% increase in peak power production (p = 0.019), and a 4% improvement in 1-min walk (p = 0.029). Notably, there was a 46% increase in somatosensory cortical activity (p = 0.02). Interpretation: These results are the first to show that power training is associated with improvements in muscular function, walking performance, and the resting somatosensory cortical activity in individuals with CP. This treatment approach might be advantageous due to the potential to promote cortical and muscular plasticity, which appear to have carryover effects for improved walking performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology