Children's Hospital Colorado

Research for Adults with Cerebral Palsy

People with cerebral palsy (CP) grow older, live longer and are more active than past generations.

This improvement is due to dedicated pediatric care from teams of specialists who help patients reach their full potential during childhood; with independent walking being an important step in achieving this goal.

Walking is essential to overall well being and an integral part of pediatric care is to test walking ability in a clinical gait laboratory, like the Center for Gait and Movement Analysis (CGMA) at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Over its 16 year history, CGMA has tested over 3,500 patients, most with cerebral palsy and many now outgrowing the pediatric system and moving to adult providers for their care.

In the CPAT study, participants legs are examined for range of motion, strength and spasticity.

How does growing older affect people with cerebral palsy?

By the age of 21, young adults age out of pediatric care 

While cerebral palsy is considered a childhood condition, it is a lifelong disease that presents challenges at every stage of development. Eventually, all kids grow into adults and by the age of 21 individuals with CP have to find a new care team to support them as they age.

Walking analyses are not common in adult care

While care teams including specialists from multiple disciplines are common at children’s hospitals, they are harder to find in adult hospitals. As an adult, finding a program that integrates gait (walking) analysis into decision-making is almost non-existent. Clinical gait labs serving adults are rare and many insurance companies, even those that support pediatric gait analysis, often do not cover gait analysis for adults.

Adults with cerebral palsy age prematurely

Decline in walking ability is one of the most commonly reported problems by adults with cerebral palsy. Research has shown that many health conditions associated with aging can be linked to decreased independent walking and the sedentary lifestyle that often results. By the age of 40, many adults with CP experience symptoms that they describe as premature aging. This includes health conditions like insulin resistance and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, pain, arthritis and other conditions associated with older adults.

Cerebral Palsy Adult Transition Longitudinal Study (CPAT)

The first study to evaluate the walking ability, overall health and quality of life of adults with CP who have moved from pediatric to adult care.

The Cerebral Palsy Adult Transition Study (CPAT) is being conducted by a research team at Children's Hospital Colorado led by Dr. James Carollo.

The study combines longitudinal measures of walking ability with current health measures (physical, metabolic and physiologic biomarkers, cognitive and quality of life tests) to better understand the complex interactions of persistent abnormal movement and motor performance.

The CPAT study let's former patients of Children's Colorado with cerebral palsy have a GAIT analysis.

Does walking ability affect health?

As part of CPAT, the research team plans to learn more about people with CP and their health as they age and what influence their walking ability has on their current health status.

Researchers believe that by maintaining the walking abilities that individuals with CP achieve as children, they can stay healthy, independent, confident and active as they grow into adulthood. They also believe that evidence gained from this study will help raise awareness of the concerns of adults with cerebral palsy, and the need for continued assessment of walking ability over the lifespan.

Former patients of the Center for Gait and Movement Analysis (CGMA) at Children’s Colorado, who performed a gait analysis as a child, may eligible to participate in this study. See below for details.

What can I expect from the study?

This research study evaluates your walking ability and health as an adult with CP.

If you are eligible to join the study, you will come to the CGMA at Children’s Colorado to participate in a physical exam, gait analysis and standard blood draw. You will also complete questionnaires related to your physical and mental health.

The study takes place over four visits at the CGMA:

  1. At your first visit, you will fill out questionnaires and a research staff will conduct a short physical exam and muscle fatigue test (provided at no cost to you). This visit determines if you are eligible to continue in this study.
  2. At your second visit, you will participate in a gait analysis to calculate and record your average walking speed. A physical therapist will also examine your muscle strength, flexibility and range of motion.
  3. At your third visit, you will come back to Children’s Colorado in the morning to have your blood drawn and later that day you will participate in a cognitive and mood assessment. 
  4. At your fourth and final visit, you (and anybody else you wish) will meet with the research team to go over your results and to offer health recommendations provided within a health passport. These results become a tool to advocate for your health and for you to share with your primary care physician. This visit is optional and we provide all of the information to you at no cost. 

 

At the end of your final visit, you will receive a gift card of $50.00 in recognition and gratitude for your participation in the study. If you choose not to attend this visit, your health passport and gift card will be mailed to you.

Can I participate in this study?

The Center for Gait and Movement Analysis is looking for adults with cerebral palsy who’ve had a gait analysis at CGMA as a child.

To be eligible you must be:

  • A previous patient from the Center for Gait and Movement Analysis at Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Diagnosed with cerebral palsy
  • Between 18 to 36 years old
  • Able to walk for 3 minutes

If you qualify, you will receive:

  • 3D instrument gait analysis
  • Muscle fatigue test
  • Health screens and surveys
  • Blood draw
  • Learning assessment

Contact us

If you are a former CGMA patient interested in participating, please contact the study coordinator at 720-777-0930 or email them at cpat@childrenscolorado.org. 

The CPAT study is supported by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), Department of Health and Human Services, grant # H133G130200.