Increased adaptation rates and reduction in trial-by-trial variability in subjects with cerebral palsy following a multi-session locomotor adaptation training Academic Article uri icon


  • Cerebral Palsy (CP) results from an insult to the developing brain and is associated with deficits in locomotor and manual skills and in sensorimotor adaptation. We hypothesized that the poor sensorimotor adaptation in persons with CP is related to their high execution variability and does not reflect a general impairment in adaptation learning. We studied the interaction between performance variability and adaptation deficits using a multi-session locomotor adaptation design in persons with CP. Six adolescents with diplegic CP were exposed, during a period of 15 weeks, to a repeated split-belt treadmill perturbation spread over 30 sessions and were tested again 6 months after the end of training. Compared to age-matched healthy controls, subjects with CP showed poor adaptation and high execution variability in the first exposure to the perturbation. Following training they showed marked reduction in execution variability and an increase in learning rates. The reduction in variability and the improvement in adaptation were highly correlated in the CP group and were retained 6 months after training. Interestingly, despite reducing their variability in the washout phase, subjects with CP did not improve learning rates during washout phases that were introduced only 4 times during the experiment. Our results suggest that locomotor adaptation in subjects with CP is related to their execution variability. Nevertheless, while variability reduction is generalized to other locomotor contexts, the development of savings requires both reduction in execution variability and multiple exposures to the perturbation.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016