Noelle Moreau, PhD, PT, an associate professor of physical therapy at Louisiana State University Health New Orleans (LSUHealthNO) School of Allied Health Professions, has received a $2.5 million grant to study the effectiveness of an innovative approach to improve the ability of children with cerebral palsy (CP) to walk. Moreau will investigate the effects of power training combined with interval treadmill training, known as PT3, on functional walking capacity, muscle performance, and architecture. PT3 is a combined impairment and task-specific approach that targets muscle power deficits specifically, “a key ingredient that is missing from current clinical practice for children with cerebral palsy,” said Moreau.
The study, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, seeks to determine the immediate and retention effects of PT3 on functional walking capacity in ambulatory children with CP, quantify the effects of treatment on muscle architecture and performance, and directly capture the effect of treatment on community-based walking activity and participation using novel, mobile-sensing technology. The LSUHealthNO site of the multi-center clinical trial will enroll 24 ambulatory children with CP who are between the ages of 10 and 17. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive either PT3 or an equivalent dosage of traditional strength training combined with traditional treadmill training for 24 sessions, 3 times per week for 8 weeks.
“This intervention represents a paradigm shift in clinical practice by addressing the specific underlying muscular mechanisms responsible for walking limitations in this group, incorporating task-specific training of walking, and focusing on developmentally appropriate pediatric walking activity patterns, rather than adult patterns, that require muscle power to be generated through high-speed intervals,” said Moreau.