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Stiff-knee gait in cerebral palsy: how do patients adapt to uneven ground?

Böhm H, et al. Gait Posture. 2014.


Patients with cerebral palsy frequently experience foot dragging and tripping during walking due to reduced toe clearance mostly caused by a lack of adequate knee flexion in swing (stiff-knee gait). The aim of this study was to investigate adaptive mechanism to an uneven surface in stiff-knee walkers with cerebral palsy. Sixteen patients with bilateral cerebral palsy, GMFCS I-II and stiff-knee gait, mean age 14.1 (SD=6.2) years, were compared to 13 healthy controls with mean age 13.5 (SD=4.8) years. Gait analysis including EMG was performed under even and uneven surface conditions. Similar strategies to improve leg clearance were found in patients as well as in controls. Both adapted with significantly reduced speed and cadence, increased outward foot rotation, knee and hip flexion as well as anterior pelvic tilt. Therefore cerebral palsy and stiff-knee gait did not affect the adaptation capacity on the uneven surface. On the uneven surface an average increase in knee flexion of 7° (SD=3°) and 12° (SD=5°) was observed in controls and patients with cerebral palsy, respectively. Although rectus femoris activity was increased in patients with cerebral palsy, they were able to increase their knee flexion during swing. The results of this study suggest that walking on uneven surface has the potential to improve knee flexion in stiff-knee walkers. Therefore training on uneven surface could be used as a conservative treatment regime alone, in combination with Botulinum neurotoxin or in the rehabilitation of surgery.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


24485919 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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