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Muscle Nerve. 2003 Apr;27(4):486-93.

Abnormal coupling of knee and hip moments during maximal exertions in persons with cerebral palsy.

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Biomechanical Engineering Division, Mechanical Engineering Department, Stanford University, California, USA.


The motions of lower-limb extension, adduction, and internal rotation are frequently coupled in persons with cerebral palsy (CP) and are commonly referred to as an extension synergy. However, the underlying joint moments that give rise to these coupled motions are not well understood. We hypothesized that maximal voluntary exertions in a direction of one component of a synergy (e.g., hip extension) would result in the concurrent presence of other components of the synergy in subjects with CP but not in control subjects. To test this hypothesis, we measured three-dimensional moments about the hip and knee as nine subjects with spastic CP and six control subjects performed maximal isometric exertions of the hip and knee flexors and extensors. During maximal hip extension exertions, control subjects simultaneously generated a knee flexion moment, whereas CP subjects generated a knee extension moment (P < 0.05) and a larger hip internal rotation moment than did controls (P < 0.05). During maximal knee extension exertions, control subjects generated a hip flexion moment, whereas CP subjects generated a hip extension moment (P < 0.05). The patterns of joint moments generated by CP subjects are consistent with an extension synergy and may underlie the coupled motion patterns of the lower extremity in such persons.

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