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1.  Becoming and staying physically active in adolescents with cerebral palsy: protocol of a qualitative study of facilitators and barriers to physical activity 
BMC Pediatrics  2011;11:1.
Background
Adolescents with cerebral palsy (CP) show a reduced physical activity (PA). Currently there are no interventions for adolescents with CP in this critical life phase that optimise and maintain the individuals' physical activity in the long term. To develop such a program it is important to fully understand the factors that influence physical activity behaviours in adolescents with CP. The aim of this study is to explore what makes it easy or hard for adolescents with CP to be and to become physically active.
Methods/Design
A qualitative research method is chosen to allow adolescents to voice their own opinion. Because we will investigate the lived experiences this study has a phenomenological approach. Thirty ambulatory and non-ambulatory adolescents (aged 10-18 years) with CP, classified as level I to IV on the Gross Motor Function Classification System and 30 parents of adolescents with CP will be invited to participate in one of the 6 focus groups or an individual interview. Therapists from all Children's Treatment Centres in Ontario, Canada, will be asked to fill in a survey. Focus groups will be audio- and videotaped and will approximately take 1.5 hours. The focus groups will be conducted by a facilitator and an assistant. In preparation of the focus groups, participants will fill in a demographic form with additional questions on physical activity. The information gathered from these questions and recent research on barriers and facilitators to physical activity will be used as a starting point for the content of the focus groups. Recordings of the focus groups will be transcribed and a content analysis approach will be used to code the transcripts. A preliminary summary of the coded data will be shared with the participants before themes will be refined.
Discussion
This study will help us gain insight and understanding of the participants' experiences and perspectives in PA, which can be of great importance when planning programs aimed at helping them to stay or to become physically active.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-1
PMCID: PMC3025867  PMID: 21214908
2.  LEARN 2 MOVE 2-3: a randomized controlled trial on the efficacy of child-focused intervention and context-focused intervention in preschool children with cerebral palsy 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:80.
Background
Little is known about the efficacy and the working mechanisms of physical and occupational therapy interventions for children with cerebral palsy (CP). In recent years a shift from a child-focused intervention approach to a more context-focused intervention approach can be recognized. Until now the evidence on the efficacy and the working mechanisms of these interventions for children with CP is inconclusive. This study aims to evaluate the efficacy and working mechanisms of two intervention approaches compared to regular care intervention in improving mobility and self-care skills of children (2-3 years) with CP and their families: a child-focused intervention approach and a context-focused intervention approach.
Methods/Design
A multi-centre, randomized controlled trial research design will be used. Ninety-four children with CP (Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) level I-IV; age 2 to 3 years), their parents, and service providers (physical and occupational therapists) will be included. During a period of six months children will receive child-focused, context-focused or regular care intervention. Therapists will be randomly assigned to deliver either a child-focused intervention approach, a context-focused intervention approach or regular care intervention. Children follow their therapist into the allocated intervention arm. After the six months study-intervention period, all participants return to regular care intervention. Outcomes will be evaluated at baseline, after six months and at a three months follow-up period. Primary outcome is the capability of functional skills in self-care and mobility, using the Functional Skills Scale of the Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI). Other outcomes will be quality of life and the domains of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health - for Children and Youth (ICF-CY), including body function and structure, activities (gross motor capacity and performance of daily activities), social participation, environmental variables (family functioning, parental empowerment).
Discussion
This paper presents the background information, design, description of interventions and protocol for this study on the efficacy and working mechanisms of child-focused intervention approach and context-focused intervention approach compared to regular care intervention in mobility and self-care skills of children (2-3 years) with CP.
Trial registration
This study is registered in the Dutch Trial Register as NTR1900
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-80
PMCID: PMC2989309  PMID: 21059257
3.  LEARN 2 MOVE 7-12 years: a randomized controlled trial on the effects of a physical activity stimulation program in children with cerebral palsy 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:77.
Background
Regular participation in physical activities is important for all children to stay fit and healthy. Children with cerebral palsy have reduced levels of physical activity, compared to typically developing children. The aim of the LEARN 2 MOVE 7-12 study is to improve physical activity by means of a physical activity stimulation program, consisting of a lifestyle intervention and a fitness training program.
Methods/Design
This study will be a 6-month single-blinded randomized controlled trial with a 6-month follow up. Fifty children with spastic cerebral palsy, aged 7 to 12 years, with Gross Motor Function Classification System levels I-III, will be recruited in pediatric physiotherapy practices and special schools for children with disabilities. The children will be randomly assigned to either the intervention group or control group. The children in the control group will continue with their regular pediatric physiotherapy, and the children in the intervention group will participate in a 6-month physical activity stimulation program. The physical activity stimulation program consists of a 6-month lifestyle intervention, in combination with a 4-month fitness training program. The lifestyle intervention includes counseling the child and the parents to adopt an active lifestyle through Motivational Interviewing, and home-based physiotherapy to practise mobility-related activities in the daily situation. Data will be collected just before the start of the intervention (T0), after the 4-month fitness training program (T4), after the 6-month lifestyle intervention (T6), and after six months of follow-up (T12). Primary outcomes are physical activity, measured with the StepWatch Activity Monitor and with self-reports. Secondary outcomes are fitness, capacity of mobility, social participation and health-related quality of life. A random coefficient analysis will be performed to determine differences in treatment effect between the control group and the intervention group, with primary outcomes and secondary outcomes as the dependent variables.
Discussion
This is the first study that investigates the effect of a combined lifestyle intervention and fitness training on physical activity. Temporary effects of the fitness training are expected to be maintained by changes to an active lifestyle in daily life and in the home situation.
Trial registration
This study is registered in the Dutch Trial Register as NTR2099.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-77
PMCID: PMC2989952  PMID: 21044314
4.  Lower limb strength training in children with cerebral palsy – a randomized controlled trial protocol for functional strength training based on progressive resistance exercise principles 
BMC Pediatrics  2008;8:41.
Background
Until recently, strength training in children with cerebral palsy (CP) was considered to be inappropriate, because it could lead to increased spasticity or abnormal movement patterns. However, the results of recent studies suggest that progressive strength training can lead to increased strength and improved function, but low methodological quality and incomplete reporting on the training protocols hampers adequate interpretation of the results. This paper describes the design and training protocol of a randomized controlled trial to assess the effects of a school-based progressive functional strength training program for children with CP.
Methods/Results
Fifty-one children with Gross Motor Function Classification Systems levels I to III, aged of 6 to 13 years, were recruited. Using stratified randomization, each child was assigned to an intervention group (strength training) or a control group (usual care). The strength training was given in groups of 4–5 children, 3 times a week, for a period of 12 weeks. Each training session focussed on four exercises out of a 5-exercise circuit. The training load was gradually increased based on the child's maximum level of strength, as determined by the 8 Repetition Maximum (8 RM). To evaluate the effectiveness of the training, all children were evaluated before, during, directly after, and 6 weeks after the intervention period. Primary outcomes in this study were gross motor function (measured with the Gross Motor Function Measure and functional muscle strength tests) and walking ability (measured with the 10-meter, the 1-minute and the timed stair test). Secondary outcomes were lower limb muscle strength (measured with a 6 RM test, isometric strength tests, and a sprint capacity test), mobility (measured with a mobility questionnaire), and sport activities (measured with the Children's Assessment of Participation and Enjoyment). Spasticity and range of motion were assessed to evaluate any adverse events.
Conclusion
Randomized clinical trials are considered to present the highest level of evidence. Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance to report on the design, the applied evaluation methods, and all elements of the intervention, to ensure adequate interpretation of the results and to facilitate implementation of the intervention in clinical practice if the results are positive.
Trial Registration
Trial Register NTR1403
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-8-41
PMCID: PMC2579291  PMID: 18842125

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