Evidence-based recommendations regarding which exercise tests to use in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy (CP) are lacking. This makes it very difficult for therapists and researchers to choose the appropriate exercise-related outcome measures for this group. This study aimed to identify a core set of exercise tests for children and adolescents with CP.
Fifteen experts (10 physical therapists/researchers and five exercise physiologists; three from the Netherlands, two from the USA, one from the UK, five from Canada, and four from Australia) participated in a Delphi survey which took four stages to achieve a consensus. Based on the information that was collected during the survey, a core set of measures was identified for levels I to IV of the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS).
For children with CP classified at GMFCS levels I and II, tests were identified for two motor skills (walking and cycling). For the subgroup of children with CP classified at GMFCS level III, the tests that were identified related to walking, cycling, and arm cranking. For children with CP classified at GMFCS level IV, the tests included in the core set were related to cycling and arm cranking.
The core set will help physical therapists, exercise physiologists, and other health professionals who work with children and adolescents with CP to decide which test(s) to use in clinical practice or research. This will facilitate comparability of results across studies and clinical programmes.