Annet Dallmeijer from the VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, described a lab-based study where – appropriately for a country where the bicycle rules – children were monitored while using a specially adapted stationary bike in a gym. The researchers increased the power every minute in a timed exercise until the point the child was fatigued, then compared this to a child who was developing normally.
‘Children with CP do have weak muscles,’ she said. ‘Because of this and other medical impairments they experience early fatigue when taking exercise.’
Their respiratory rate could, she suggested, be affected by their lack of exercise rather than directly by their cerebral palsy.
And the physical strain of just walking, even in someone with mild CP, needed to be taken into account by physios when devising an exercise programme for a child with CP, she advised.