Rock climbing benefits found in cerebral palsy study

Climbing has been backed as a “valuable” exercise for children with cerebral palsy after new research revealed a store of health benefits.

Researchers found that climbing strengthened the link between the brain and muscles, thus increasing children’s ability to perform day-to-day activities.

In the study, 11 children aged 11 to 13 used indoor combing equipment including boulder climbing and wall climbing courses.

Each exercise used physical strength, endurance, posture, balance, coordination, and involved the child selecting appropriate routes.

Climbing was found to “significantly” improve a child’s score on sit-to-stand, hand force, and muscular activity tests.

“Climbing can be a sports activity for almost every child, including children with physical disability and cognitive deficit,” the researchers said.

“For children with severe physical disability specific climbing platforms [have] been developed.

“Climbing training seems to be a way to engage children with CP in many weekly hours of physical activity in a fun and motivating way that may help improve climbing skills, muscle strength, balance, as well as mental and social skills.”

They added that “the improved motor abilities obtained through the training” are likely the result of “increased synchronization between cortex and muscles, which results in a more efficient motor unit recruitment that may be transferred to daily functional abilities”.

Cerebral palsy is a condition which affects movement and co-ordination. It can be caused by a problem with the brain that occurs before, during, or soon after birth. Around one in 400 children are born with cerebral palsy each year.