Microvascularization is not a limiting factor for exercise in adults with cerebral palsy

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Muscle contractures are a common complication in patients with central nervous system (CNS) lesions which limit range of movement and cause joint deformities. Furthermore, it has previously been shown that muscles with contractures have a reduced number of capillaries, indicating decreased tissue vascularization. The aim of the present study was to investigate the microvascular volume (MV) at rest and after acute exercise in the muscle tissue of individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) and healthy control individuals. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) was used before and after 30 min of walking or running on a treadmill in 10 healthy control participants and 10 individuals with CP to detect MV of their skeletal muscle tissue. A significant increase in the MV was observed after exercise both in the adult CP group (21-53 yr) and in the control group (21-52 yr) (1.8 ± 0.8 ΔdB to 3.1 ± 0.9 ΔdB or 42.9% and 1.5 ± 0.6 ΔdB to 2.5 ± 0.9 ΔdB or 39.0%, respectively). Furthermore, a difference in the resting MV was observed between the most severe cases of CP [gross motor function classification scale (GMFCS) 3 and 4] (2.3 ± 0.5 ΔdB) and the less severe cases (GMFCS 1 and 2) (1.5 ± 0.2 ΔdB). When the CP group was walking (3.4 km/h), the lactate levels, Borg score, and heart rate matched the level of controls when they were running (9.8 km/h). In conclusion, individuals with CP become exhausted at much lower exercise intensities than healthy individuals. This is not explained by impaired microvascularization, since the MV of the individuals with CP respond normally to increased O 2 demand during acute exercise. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Cerebral palsy (CP) patients were less physically active compared with typically developed individuals. This may affect the microvascularization. We observed that the CP group became exhausted at much lower exercise intensities compared with healthy individuals. However, impaired microvascularization was not the reason for the decreased physical activity as the CP group responded normally to increased O 2 demand during acute exercise. These results indicate that walking may be recommended as an intervention to train and maintain skeletal muscle tissue in individuals with CP.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)536-544
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • cerebral palsy, microvascularization, muscle contractures

ID: 196786926