Objective: To compare the cardiac autonomic system at rest and its response to a submaximal aerobic test in children with cerebral palsy (CP) and typically developed (TD) controls.
Design: Twenty-five children with CP aged 6-11 and 20 age and gender matched TD controls participated in the study. RR intervals were monitored at rest, while performing the sub-maximal treadmill test, and during the recovery period. The square-root of the mean of successive differences between adjacent RR intervals (RMSSD) was calculated.
Results: The median level of the submaximal treadmill test stage was 3 for children with CP (95% CI 0.75-3.25), 16/20 TD children completed all test stages. The Log- Rank statistic (χ2 1=30.4) was highly significant (p<0.001). At rest the RMSSD values in children with CP were significantly lower as compared to children TD, and changed less due to the submaximal test and recovery stages (interaction-effect, F2;86=9, p<0.01).
Conclusion: Children with CP show lower RMSSD at rest, and less adaptive to exercise as compared to TD children. Performing physical activity is highly recommended for children with CP, re-educating the cardiac autonomic system is one of its main goals. Assessing the autonomic response to different exercise protocols is the next step needed.
Taly Amichai and Michal Katz-Leurer*
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