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Activity-Based Therapy Targeting Neuromuscular Capacity After Pediatric-Onset Spinal Cord Injury

Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

As published in American Spinal Injury Association

Background: Activity-based therapies aim to improve neuromuscular capacity after spinal cord injury (SCI). To report the impact of Activity-based Locomotor Training (AB-LT) on neuromuscular capacity in pediatric patients with SCI.

Methods: Participants were enrolled for their first episode of AB-LT for a minimum of 60 daily, 1.5-hour sessions. The Segmental Assessment of Trunk Control (SATCo) and the Pediatric Neuromuscular Recovery Scale (Pediatric NRS) were assessed initially, every 20 sessions, and post 60 sessions.

Results: Twenty-six consecutive patients, mean age 5 years (SD = 3), completed a mean 55 sessions (SD = 4) within 63 weekdays (SD = 9). The Pediatric NRS total score improved significantly, adjusted mean 11.4, from initial to post-60 sessions (p < .05) with an average adjusted evaluation-to-evaluation 3.7 change. SATCo scores improved significantly across 60 sessions, mean change 5.2, an estimated 1.7 change between evaluations (p < .05). Age at enrollment and chronicity had no effect; however, initial neuromuscular capacity scores were negatively correlated with change scores (p < .05).

Conclusion: Sixty AB-LT sessions significantly improved trunk and neuromuscular capacity in children with SCI, regardless of age or chronicity at enrollment. Patients with lower initial scores made greater improvements than patients with higher initial neuromuscular capacity. Anecdotal parent reports of their child’s functional change in the home and community highlight the synergy between quantitative change in neuromuscular capacity and meaningful, improved quality of life and the need for formal investigation of this relationship.

This article was authored by:

  • Andrea L. Behrman, PT, PhD, FAPTA
  • Laura C. Argetsinger, DPT, PT
  • MacKenzie T. Roberts, DPT, PT
  • Danielle Stout, MS, OTR/L
  • Jennifer Thompson, MD
  • Beatrice Ugiliweneza, PhD, MSPH
  • Shelley A. Trimble, PT

Read the Complete Published Article in American Spinal Injury Association: Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation.

Posted in Pediatric Publication, Publications