A new study suggests that children with CP who use a manual wheelchair use the same or less energy than other children with CP who can walk. The study was published in Developmental Neurorehabilitation and reported in Cerebral Palsy News Today.
Previous studies on wheelchair usages in children found that those who use a wheelchair spend less energy than those who can walk to travel the same distance. The researchers wanted to see if this was the case in children with CP since children with CP use more energy to move.
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They also wanted to test a new way of measuring energy use in movement by measuring total heartbeats used to walk a certain distance. 21 children participated in the study. They were separated into those who can walk independently and those who used a manual wheelchair, then asked to walk or wheel at a measured distanced for five minutes while their heart rates were measured.
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The researchers found that the energy efficiency between the walking and wheelchair groups was equal or better for wheeling. However, among those who use wheelchairs, those with GMFCS level III used much less energy than those with GMFCS level IV disabilities. They also concluded that the new energy measurement system was better than the current standard.