Modified sport interventions run by physiotherapists have shown potential as cost-effective, engaging, and effective interventions to improve gross motor skills and support transition to real-world sports participation for children with cerebral palsy. At present, this population demonstrates decreased participation in physical activities and sport compared to peers due to barriers ranging from body function to accessibility challenges. Sport provides culturally relevant opportunities for social integration, community participation and physical activity and has been shown to improve the fitness, self-esteem, confidence and quality of life of children with disabilities. The Sports Stars physiotherapy group has been designed to support the development of a range of fundamental movement and sports skills through activity skill practice and participation in modified popular Australian sports.
This randomised, waitlist controlled, assessor blinded, superiority trial with two parallel groups will aim to compare the effectiveness of Sports Stars to standard care across all ICF domains. Children in the Sports Stars group are expected to demonstrate greater improvement in their individually-selected, sports related goals measured by the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure. This study will aim to assess sixty ambulant children aged six to 12 years with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Children will be excluded if they have had recent Botox or neurological/orthopaedic surgery. The Sports Stars intervention includes eight, one-hour, weekly physiotherapy group sessions with four to six participants and one lead physiotherapist. Outcome measures will be collected pre, post and 12 weeks post the immediate Sports Stars group to assess change immediately after, and at follow up time points.
This will be the first study of its kind to investigate a culturally relevant sports-focussed fundamental movement skills physiotherapy group for ambulant children with cerebral palsy. The findings will add to a growing pool of evidence supporting group physiotherapy for children with cerebral palsy and the Sports Stars group will provide an avenue for children to transition from individual physiotherapy to mainstream and modified recreational and competitive sports.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12617000313336 Registered 28, February 2017. WHO Universal Trial Number: U1111-1189-3355 Registered 1, November 2016.