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A new program in the SMS physical therapy department is giving new hope to children with cerebral palsy. KSMU's Jeremy Elwood reports.
Riding a bike is an ability most children take for granted. For many children with cerebral palsy, it's an ability they many never get the chance to experience. But one program at SMS is attempting to change that.
The Pediatric Endurance Development and Limb Strengthening Program, also called the PEDALS project, involves children between 7 and 16 years of age who have a specific form of cerebral palsy called spastic diplegia, which affects the muscles in the legs. The project is funded by a grant through the University of Southern California.
SMS Physical Therapy professor Dr. Loretta Knutson says the program involves training on a stationary bicycle, which helps to both strengthen the legs and improve cardio-respiratory endurance. The program lasts 10 to 12 weeks for each student.
SMS is one of only three schools participating in the pedals project. The others are USC and Northwestern University in Chicago. Knutson says SMS has been involved from the very beginning. Knutson says she knew the pediatric physical therapists in California who put together the program, and they contacted her to participate because of her 18 years of experience in pediatric physical therapy training.
About 60 children will participate in the program nationwide, and up to 30 of those children will be here in Springfield. Included in the study is a free bicycle for each of the children who participate, made possible through a private donation.
If you'd like more information about the PEDALS program, or if you know a child you think would be a candidate for the project, you can call Dr. Loretta Knutson at 836-8728.