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Open Access Research article

Individualized, home-based interactive training of cerebral palsy children delivered through the Internet

Peder E Bilde1, Mette Kliim-Due1, Betina Rasmussen1, Line Z Petersen1, Tue H Petersen123 and Jens B Nielsen23*

Author Affiliations

1 The Helene Elsass Center, Holmegårdsvej 28, 2900 Charlottenlund, Denmark

2 Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

3 Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

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BMC Neurology 2011, 11:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-32

Published: 9 March 2011

Abstract

Background

The available health resources limit the amount of therapy that may be offered to children with cerebral palsy and the amount of training in each session may be insufficient to drive the neuroplastic changes, which are necessary for functional improvements to take place. The aim of this pilot study was to provide proof of concept that individualized and supervised interactive home-based training delivered through the internet may provide an efficient way of maintaining intensive training of children with cerebral palsy over prolonged periods.

Methods

9 children (aged 9-13 years) with cerebral palsy were included in the study. Motor, perceptual and cognitive abilities were evaluated before and after 20 weeks of home-based training delivered through the internet.

Results

The children and their families reported great enthusiasm with the training system and all experienced subjective improvements in motor abilities and self-esteem. The children on average trained for 74 hours during a 20 week period equalling just over 30 minutes per day. Significant improvements in functional muscle strength measured as the frontal and lateral step-up and sit-to-stand tests were observed. Assessment of Motor and processing skills also showed significant increases. Endurance measured as the Bruce test showed a significant improvement, whereas there was no significant change in the 6 min walking test. Balance (Romberg) was unchanged. Visual perceptual abilities increased significantly.

Conclusions

We conclude that it is feasible to deliver interactive training of children with cerebral palsy at home through the internet and thereby ensure more intensive and longer lasting training than what is normally offered to this group.