A landmark research project led by The University of Queensland is aiming to improve the cardiovascular health of young children with cerebral palsy (CP) by trialling a new running program.
Dr Sarah Reedman, a Research Fellow at UQ’s Cerebral Palsy and Rehabilitation Research Centre, said the study was the first of its kind internationally to host a trial of frame running training and would monitor the improvements in cardiovascular fitness for young children living with CP as they train and grow.
“Participants of our project, which is called Running for Health, will use a frame that gives children with CP the capability to run,” Dr Reedman said.
“Frame running or race running is a new sport and will only be introduced for the first time at the Paris Paralympics in 2024.
“We are currently identifying children who want to get into the sport and you never know, they might end up representing Australia in their hometown come 2032.”
CP is the most common physical disability in childhood with around 600 children diagnosed in Australia every year.
Children with CP often have difficulty walking or cannot walk, meaning they have low physical activity levels which can lead to a 300 per cent increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
“Kids with cerebral palsy grow up to be adults with cerebral palsy, and adults with the disease have a high risk of dying prematurely,” Dr Reedman said.
“The risk of this cohort dying from heart disease hasn’t dropped in 30 years due to the lack of research into the area, and I am hoping to change that.
“The project could have the added benefit of improving sports equity, as frame running is one of the only accessible opportunities for high intensity activity for people with a severe disability.”
Dr Reedman’s research project received almost $50,000 of funding from the Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Trials will be run in Brisbane, Sydney and Cairns and are open to participants between the ages of 8-20 years. Those interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collaborating institutions include The Children’s Hospital Foundation, Queensland Children’s Hospital (Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service), Sydney Children’s Hospital Network and University of Sydney.