The National Institute of Health awarded the University of Georgia’s College of Education a $2.9 million grant to study the effect of vibration therapy on children with mild forms of Cerebral Palsy. March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, and according to the CDC, Cerebral Palsy is the most common motor disability in children, affecting one in 323 children.
Brandon Sudge is a junior at the University of Georgia. He enjoys sports and writing, and he works for a local newspaper in Macon, all while taking classes. He also has Cerebral Palsy. He describes CP as a spectrum that can range from mild cases to severe cases. According to him, he’s somewhere in the middle.
“I work a job that a lot of other people don’t get the opportunity to work. So, I would definitely say that I am fortunate to have the opportunities that I have because [CP] is not the easiest thing to deal with,” he said.
He also said he wants people to know that he doesn’t define Cerebral Palsy as a disability.
“I have plenty of ability,” he said.
Christopher Modlesky, the principle investigator on the UGA study, decided to study CP because of its prevalence in society.
“Some people think of it as a rare disorder. It’s really not,” Modlesky said. “There just hasn’t been enough research done on people with Cerebral Palsy.”
To him, that’s a problem.
It’s really important that families participate in research studies…The only way that our knowledge about Cerebral Palsy and how to treat it is going to improve is by participation by the families,” Modlesky said.
According to Modlesky, children with CP have a lot of bone problems.
“They have very low bone density, very poor bone architecture, they have very small muscles. They participate in small amounts of physical activity irrespective of the level of their disorder,” he said.
Modlesky said he hopes the barely-noticeable vibrations that are part of the study will have a positive impact on kids’ balance, muscle function and ability to engage in physical activity.
Participants of the study will undergo 10 minutes of vibration therapy every day for six months. During that time and in the months following the treatment, Modlesky and his team will conduct a serious of tests on each participant that measures balance, muscle composition and physical activity.
Modlesky’s team has five normally-developing children participating in the study that they plan to use as control variables. They are currently recruiting children with Cerebral Palsy to take part. Participants will be given the vibration platform to take home with them, though some participants will be given a “placebo” platform in order to account for a control in the study.
If you are interested in enrolling a child in this study, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sydney Heiberger is a senior at the University of Georgia pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology.