Arcadia University Physical Therapy Professor’s Research to Explore Adolescent Cerebral Palsy
“Combination of High-Intensity Strength and Locomotor Training to Improve Walking Activity in Ambulatory Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy”
Glenside, PA—Feb. 5, 2010—Arcadia University Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Dr. Scott Stackhouse has been awarded a $40,000 research grant for a two-year study on “Combination of High-Intensity Strength and Locomotor Training to Improve Walking Activity in Ambulatory Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy.” The grant is supported by the Foundation for Physical Therapy Inc. Two researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Michael DiIenno D.P.T. and Heather Atkinson D.P.T. will serve as co-investigators. Drs. DiIenno and Atkinson are also Associated Faculty of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Arcadia, and Atkinson was a graduate of Arcadia in 1995 and 1997.
The main aspect of this study aims to determine if a combined treatment of high-intensity strength and locomotor training over an eight-week period will demonstrate meaningful changes in gait speed in adolescents with cerebral palsy during a six-minute walk test. Stackhouse’s hypothesis is that the two different treatments will yield an additive effect. “Strength training targets the muscles that are involved in supporting the body against gravity and propulsion,” he explains, “while locomotor training targets central nervous system plasticity.”
The researchers will study further the “order effect” of the combined interventions. Their hypothesis is that four weeks of strength training followed by four weeks of locomotor training will have a demonstrated additive effect on gait speed than when the training order is reversed. “We based this hypothesis on the premise that strengthening the muscles of the lower extremity involved in supporting bodyweight and propulsion prior to locomotor training will provide enhanced gains during locomotor training where the emphasis of the training is placed on attaining faster walking speeds using the improved force production,” he adds.
In spring 2009 Stackhouse received the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching at Arcadia University’s annual Honors Convocation. He earned an A.B. in Biology-Psychology in 1995 from Franklin and Marshall College, a Master of Science in Physical Therapy in 1997 from Arcadia University and a Ph.D. in Biomechanics and Movement Science from the University of Delaware in 2003.
About Arcadia University: Arcadia University is a top-ranked private university in metropolitan Philadelphia and a national leader in study abroad, ranked #1 in undergraduate participation in study abroad (Open Doors 2009). Arcadia University promises a distinctively global, integrative and personal learning experience that prepares students to contribute and prosper in a diverse and dynamic world. U.S. News & World Report ranks Arcadia University among the top master’s universities in the North, as one of the top study abroad programs in the nation, and as a “top up-and-coming school.” The Physical Therapy program is ranked 7th in the nation.