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J Biomech. 2010 May 28;43(8):1522-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.01.008. Epub 2010 Apr 8.

Variation of hamstrings lengths and velocities with walking speed.

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Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, Stanford University, Clark Center, Room S-321, Mail Code 5450, 318 Campus Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-5450, USA.


Crouch gait, one of the most prevalent movement abnormalities among children with cerebral palsy, is frequently treated with surgical lengthening of the hamstrings. To assist in surgical planning many clinical centers use musculoskeletal modeling to help determine if a patient's hamstrings are shorter or lengthen more slowly than during unimpaired gait. However, some subjects with crouch gait walk slowly, and gait speed may affect peak hamstring lengths and lengthening velocities. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of walking speed on hamstrings lengths and velocities in a group of unimpaired subjects over a large range of speeds and to determine if evaluating subjects with crouch gait using speed matched controls alters subjects' characterization as having "short" or "slow" hamstrings. We examined 39 unimpaired subjects who walked at five different speeds. These subjects served as speed-matched controls for comparison to 74 subjects with cerebral palsy who walked in crouch gait. Our analysis revealed that peak hamstrings length and peak lengthening velocity in unimpaired subjects increased significantly with increasing walking speed. Fewer subjects with cerebral palsy were categorized as having hamstrings that were "short" (31/74) or "slow" (38/74) using a speed-matched control protocol compared to a non-speed-matched protocol (35/74 "short", 47/74 "slow"). Evaluation of patients with cerebral palsy using speed-matched controls alters and may improve selection of patients for hamstrings lengthening procedures.

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