An Investigation into the Functional Changes Brought about by Full Body Lycra Suits in Children with Cerebral Palsy

Weeks, Sian Parry (2012) An Investigation into the Functional Changes Brought about by Full Body Lycra Suits in Children with Cerebral Palsy. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The use of Lycra Suits in the management of cerebral palsy (CP) is extremely commonplace though little research has being carried out on them and their effect on lower limbs in walking. Using 3D motion analysis techniques the movement of the limbs may be quantified with far greater accuracy in all three planes. The aim of this project was to evaluate the effectiveness of Lycra Suits in children with Cerebral Palsy during walking.

Eleven children (nine male and two female) aged 2yrs to 9yrs old, with Cerebral Palsy or similar neurological disorders were recruited to participate in the study. The patients were initially tested without the Lycra Suit (NIni) then again when wearing the Lycra Suit for the first time (SIni). The participants then wore the suit daily for twelve weeks, whilst continuing their usual daily activities and physiotherapy treatments. Following this the participants were tested again, firstly whilst wearing the Lycra Suit (S3), then immediately after removing the suit (NS3). Testing involved the patients performing three repetitions of a 10m walking test at their usual walking speed. Joint angles in the sagittal plane were measured at the hip, knee and ankle, and in the transverse plane at the hip. The results were reported as single case studies.

Joint angles at the hip, knee and ankle all showed varying responses across all conditions, both within and across subjects. All eleven children showed changes in joint angle towards normal age-matched values. In conclusion it is clear that the responses to the lycra garments are as varied and individual as the presentations of Cerebral Palsy itself. With this in mind therapists should ensure continuing observations are carried out during periods of wear, ensuring physical ability both with and without the suit are not being reduced as a consequence.

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