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J Orthop Res. 1995 Jan;13(1):96-104.

Preserving plantar flexion strength after surgical treatment for contracture of the triceps surae: a computer simulation study.

Author information

1
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.

Abstract

Contractures of the triceps surae commonly are treated by surgical lengthening of the gastrocnemius aponeurosis or the Achilles tendon. Although these procedures generally relieve contractures, patients sometimes are left with dramatically decreased plantar flexion strength (i.e., decreased capacity to generate plantar flexion moment). The purpose of this study was to examine the trade-off between restoring range of motion and maintaining plantar flexion strength after surgical treatment for contracture of the triceps surae. A computer model representing the normal moment-generating characteristics of the triceps surae was altered to represent two conditions: isolated contracture of the gastrocnemius and contracture of both the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The effects of lengthening the gastrocnemius aponeurosis and the Achilles tendon were simulated for each condition. The simulations showed that nearly normal moment-generating characteristics could be restored when isolated gastrocnemius contracture was treated with lengthening of the gastrocnemius aponeurosis. However, when isolated gastrocnemius contracture was treated with lengthening of the Achilles tendon, the moment-generating capacity of the plantar flexors decreased greatly. This suggests that lengthening of the Achilles tendon should be avoided in persons with isolated gastrocnemius contracture. Our simulations also suggest that neither lengthening of the gastrocnemius aponeurosis nor lengthening of the Achilles tendon by itself is an effective treatment for combined contracture of the gastrocnemius and soleus. Lengthening the gastrocnemius aponeurosis did not decrease the excessive passive moment developed by the contracted soleus. Lengthening the Achilles tendon restored the normal passive range of motion but substantially decreased the active force-generating capacity of the muscles.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

PMID:
7853110
DOI:
10.1002/jor.1100130115
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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