A systematic review of the effectiveness of treadmill training and body weight support in pediatric rehabilitation.

Damiano DL, DeJong SL

Given the extensive literature on body weight-supported treadmill training (BWSTT) in adult rehabilitation, this systematic review was undertaken to explore the strength, quality, and conclusiveness of evidence supporting use of treadmill training and body weight support in those with pediatric motor disabilities. A secondary goal was to ascertain whether protocol guidelines for BWSTT are available to guide pediatric physical therapy practice.Efficacy of treadmill training in accelerating walking development in Down syndrome has been well demonstrated. Evidence supporting efficacy or effectiveness of BWSTT in pediatric practice for improving gait impairments and level of activity and participation in those with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, and other central nervous system disorders remains insufficient, although many studies noted positive effects.

The original evidence demonstrates efficacy of BWSTT in children with Down syndrome, but large-scale controlled trials are needed to support the use of BWSTT in other pediatric subgroups. Increased use of randomized designs, studies with treadmill training-only groups, and dosage studies are needed before practice guidelines can be formulated.

J Neurol Phys Ther. 2009, 33(1), 27-44

Link to abstract