When investigating dose-response relationships in rehabilitation studies, dose is often equated with duration of therapy. However, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, dose consists of the factors frequency, intensity, time and type. Thereby, especially quantification of intensity needs improvement to have a more precise estimate of the dose. Thus, the aim was to investigate the intensity during mobility-focused, real-life pediatric rehabilitation therapies.
Eleven participants (5 girls; 12.5±2.1y old) with neurological disorders and independent mobility wore accelerometers at wrists and ankles and a portable heart rate monitor during several of the following therapies: sports therapy, mobility-focused physiotherapy, medical training therapy, and robot-assisted gait training. Intensity of physical activity was quantified by activity counts (measured via accelerometers) and heart rate.
Therapy duration did not correlate with intensity. At the same time we found significant differences between intensities of different therapies.
Different therapies elicit different levels of intensity in children with neuromotor disorders. Heart rate and activity counts are suited to estimate the intensity of a therapy and provide complementary information. We recommend against using the duration of a therapy as a proxy for the dose to make statements about dose-response relationships.