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Individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) report physical fatigue as a main cause of limitation, deterioration and eventually cessation of their walking ability. A consequence of higher level of fatigue in individuals with CP leads to a less efficient and long-distance walking ability.

Research question:

This systematic review investigates the difference in 1) walking energy expenditure between individuals with CP and age-matched typically developing (TD) individuals; and 2) energetics of walking across Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) levels and age.


Five electronic databases (PubMed, Web of Science, CINAHL, ScienceDirect and Scopus) were searched using search terms related to CP and energetics of walking.


Forty-one studies met inclusion criteria. Thirty-one studies compared energy expenditure between CP and age-matched controls. Twelve studies correlated energy expenditure and oxygen cost across GMFCS levels. Three studies investigated the walking efficiency across different ages or over a time period. A significant increase of energy expenditure and oxygen cost was found in individuals with CP compared to TD age-matched individuals, with a strong relationship across GMFCS levels.


Despite significant differences between individuals with CP compared to TD peers, variability in methods and testing protocols may play a confounding role. Analysis suggests oxygen cost being the preferred/unbiased physiological parameter to assess walking efficacy in CP. To date, there is a knowledge gap on age-related changes of walking efficiency across GMFCS levels and wider span of age ranges. Further systematic research looking at longitudinal age-related changes of energetics of walking in this population is warranted.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Gait & Posture