Evaluation of the effectiveness of robotic gait training and gait-focused physical therapy programs for children and youth with cerebral palsy: a mixed methods RCT
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BACKGROUND: Robot assisted gait training (RAGT) is considered to be a promising approach for improving gait-related gross motor function of children and youth with cerebral palsy. However, RAGT has yet to be empirically demonstrated to be effective. This knowledge gap is particularly salient given the strong interest in this intensive therapy, the high cost of the technology, and the requirement for specialized rehabilitation centre resources. METHODS: This is a research protocol describing a prospective, multi-centre, concurrent mixed methods study comprised of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) and an interpretive descriptive qualitative design. It is a mixed methods study designed to determine the relative effectiveness of three physical therapy treatment conditions (i.e., RAGT, a functional physical therapy program conducted over-ground (fPT), and RAGT + fPT) on gait related motor skills of ambulatory children with cerebral palsy. Children with cerebral palsy aged 5-18 years who are ambulatory (Gross Motor Function Classification System Levels II and III) will be randomly allocated to one of four treatment conditions: 1) RAGT, 2) fPT, 3) RAGT and fPT combined, or 4) a maintenance therapy only control group. The qualitative component will explicate child and parent experiences with the interventions, provide insight into the values that underlie their therapy goals, and assist with interpretation of the results of the RCT. DISCUSSION: n/a. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT02391324 Registered March 12, 2015.
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