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J Biomech. 2005 Nov;38(11):2181-9. Epub 2004 Nov 23.

Muscular contributions to hip and knee extension during the single limb stance phase of normal gait: a framework for investigating the causes of crouch gait.

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  • 1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Clark Center, Room S-349, Mail Code 5450, 318 Campus Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-5450, USA.


Crouch gait, a troublesome movement abnormality among persons with cerebral palsy, is characterized by excessive flexion of the hips and knees during stance. Treatment of crouch gait is challenging, at present, because the factors that contribute to hip and knee extension during normal gait are not well understood, and because the potential of individual muscles to produce flexion or extension of the joints during stance is unknown. This study analyzed a three-dimensional, muscle-actuated dynamic simulation of walking to quantify the angular accelerations of the hip and knee induced by muscles during normal gait, and to rank the potential of the muscles to alter motions of these joints. Examination of the muscle actions during single limb stance showed that the gluteus maximus, vasti, and soleus make substantial contributions to hip and knee extension during normal gait. Per unit force, the gluteus maximus had greater potential than the vasti to accelerate the knee toward extension. These data suggest that weak hip extensors, knee extensors, or ankle plantar flexors may contribute to crouch gait, and strengthening these muscles--particularly gluteus maximus--may improve hip and knee extension. Abnormal forces generated by the iliopsoas or adductors may also contribute to crouch gait, as our analysis showed that these muscles have the potential to accelerate the hip and knee toward flexion. This work emphasizes the need to consider how muscular forces contribute to multijoint movements when attempting to identify the causes of abnormal gait.

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