How much muscle strength is required to walk in a crouch gait?
ABSTRACT: Muscle weakness is commonly cited as a cause of crouch gait in individuals with cerebral palsy; however, outcomes after strength training are variable and mechanisms by which muscle weakness may contribute to crouch gait are unclear. Understanding how much muscle strength is required to walk in a crouch gait compared to an unimpaired gait may provide insight into how muscle weakness contributes to crouch gait and assist in the design of strength training programs. The goal of this study was to examine how much muscle groups could be weakened before crouch gait becomes impossible. To investigate this question, we first created muscle-driven simulations of gait for three typically developing children and six children with cerebral palsy who walked with varying degrees of crouch severity. We then simulated muscle weakness by systematically reducing the maximum isometric force of each muscle group until the simulation could no longer reproduce each subject's gait. This analysis indicated that moderate crouch gait required significantly more knee extensor strength than unimpaired gait. In contrast, moderate crouch gait required significantly less hip abductor strength than unimpaired gait, and mild crouch gait required significantly less ankle plantarflexor strength than unimpaired gait. The reduced strength required from the hip abductors and ankle plantarflexors during crouch gait suggests that weakness of these muscle groups may contribute to crouch gait and that these muscle groups are potential targets for strength training.
Project description:The goals of this study were to determine if the muscle contributions to vertical and fore-aft acceleration of the mass center differ between crouch gait and unimpaired gait and if these muscle contributions change with crouch severity. Examining muscle contributions to mass center acceleration provides insight into the roles of individual muscles during gait and can provide guidance for treatment planning. We calculated vertical and fore-aft accelerations using musculoskeletal simulations of typically developing children and children with cerebral palsy and crouch gait. Analysis of these simulations revealed that during unimpaired gait the quadriceps produce large upward and backward accelerations during early stance, whereas the ankle plantarflexors produce large upward and forward accelerations later in stance. In contrast, during crouch gait, the quadriceps and ankle plantarflexors produce large, opposing fore-aft accelerations throughout stance. The quadriceps force required to accelerate the mass center upward was significantly larger in crouch gait than in unimpaired gait and increased with crouch severity. The gluteus medius accelerated the mass center upward during midstance in unimpaired gait; however, during crouch gait the upward acceleration produced by the gluteus medius was significantly reduced. During unimpaired gait the quadriceps and ankle plantarflexors accelerate the mass center at different times, efficiently modulating fore-aft accelerations. However, during crouch gait, the quadriceps and ankle plantarflexors produce fore-aft accelerations at the same time and the opposing fore-aft accelerations generated by these muscles contribute to the inefficiency of crouch gait.
Project description:Muscle weakness may contribute to crouch gait in individuals with cerebral palsy, and some individuals participate in strength training programs to improve crouch gait. Unfortunately, improvements in muscle strength and gait are inconsistent after completing strength training programs. The purpose of this study was to examine changes in knee extensor strength and knee extension angle during walking after strength training in individuals with cerebral palsy who walk in crouch gait and to determine subject characteristics associated with these changes. A literature review was performed of studies published since January 2000 that included strength training, three-dimensional motion analysis, and knee extensor strength measurements for individuals with cerebral palsy. Three studies met these criteria and individual subject data was obtained from the authors for thirty crouch gait subjects. Univariate regression analyses were performed to determine which of ten physical examination and motor performance variables were associated with changes in strength and knee extension during gait. Change in knee extensor strength ranged from a 25% decrease to a 215% increase, and change in minimum knee flexion angle during gait ranged from an improvement of 9° more knee extension to 15° more knee flexion. Individuals without hamstring spasticity had greater improvement in knee extension after strength training. Hamstring spasticity was associated with an undesired increase in knee flexion during walking. Subject-specific factors such as hamstring spasticity may be useful for predicting which subjects will benefit from strength training to improve crouch gait.
Project description:Crouch gait, a common walking pattern in individuals with cerebral palsy, is characterized by excessive flexion of the hip and knee. Many subjects with crouch gait experience knee pain, perhaps because of elevated muscle forces and joint loading. The goal of this study was to examine how muscle forces and compressive tibiofemoral force change with the increasing knee flexion associated with crouch gait. Muscle forces and tibiofemoral force were estimated for three unimpaired children and nine children with cerebral palsy who walked with varying degrees of knee flexion. We scaled a generic musculoskeletal model to each subject and used the model to estimate muscle forces and compressive tibiofemoral forces during walking. Mild crouch gait (minimum knee flexion 20-35°) produced a peak compressive tibiofemoral force similar to unimpaired walking; however, severe crouch gait (minimum knee flexion>50°) increased the peak force to greater than 6 times body-weight, more than double the load experienced during unimpaired gait. This increase in compressive tibiofemoral force was primarily due to increases in quadriceps force during crouch gait, which increased quadratically with average stance phase knee flexion (i.e., crouch severity). Increased quadriceps force contributes to larger tibiofemoral and patellofemoral loading which may contribute to knee pain in individuals with crouch gait.
Project description:Passive ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) are often prescribed for children with cerebral palsy (CP) to assist locomotion, but predicting how specific device designs will impact energetic demand during gait remains challenging. Powered AFOs have been shown to reduce energy costs of walking in unimpaired adults more than passive AFOs, but have not been tested in children with CP. The goal of this study was to investigate the potential impact of powered and passive AFOs on muscle demand and recruitment in children with CP and crouch gait. We simulated gait for nine children with crouch gait and three typically-developing children with powered and passive AFOs. For each AFO design, we computed reductions in muscle demand compared to unassisted gait. Powered AFOs reduced muscle demand 15-44% compared to unassisted walking, 1-14% more than passive AFOs. A slower walking speed was associated with smaller reductions in absolute muscle demand for all AFOs (r2 = 0.60-0.70). However, reductions in muscle demand were only moderately correlated with crouch severity (r2 = 0.40-0.43). The ankle plantarflexor muscles were most heavily impacted by the AFOs, with gastrocnemius recruitment decreasing 13-73% and correlating with increasing knee flexor moments (r2 = 0.29-0.91). These findings support the potential use of powered AFOs for children with crouch gait, and highlight how subject-specific kinematics and kinetics may influence muscle demand and recruitment to inform AFO design.
Project description:Pathological movement patterns like crouch gait are characterized by abnormal kinematics and muscle activations that alter how muscles support the body weight during walking. Individual muscles are often the target of interventions to improve crouch gait, yet the roles of individual muscles during crouch gait remain unknown. The goal of this study was to examine how muscles contribute to mass center accelerations and joint angular accelerations during single-limb stance in crouch gait, and compare these contributions to unimpaired gait. Subject-specific dynamic simulations were created for ten children who walked in a mild crouch gait and had no previous surgeries. The simulations were analyzed to determine the acceleration of the mass center and angular accelerations of the hip, knee, and ankle generated by individual muscles. The results of this analysis indicate that children walking in crouch gait have less passive skeletal support of body weight and utilize substantially higher muscle forces to walk than unimpaired individuals. Crouch gait relies on the same muscles as unimpaired gait to accelerate the mass center upward, including the soleus, vasti, gastrocnemius, gluteus medius, rectus femoris, and gluteus maximus. However, during crouch gait, these muscles are active throughout single-limb stance, in contrast to the modulation of muscle forces seen during single-limb stance in an unimpaired gait. Subjects walking in crouch gait rely more on proximal muscles, including the gluteus medius and hamstrings, to accelerate the mass center forward during single-limb stance than subjects with an unimpaired gait.
Project description:Many children with cerebral palsy walk in a crouch gait that progressively worsens over time, decreasing walking efficiency and leading to joint degeneration. This study examined the effect of crouched postures on the capacity of muscles to extend the hip and knee joints and the joint flexions induced by gravity during the single-limb stance phase of gait. We first characterized representative mild, moderate, and severe crouch gait kinematics based on a large group of subjects with cerebral palsy (N=316). We then used a three-dimensional model of the musculoskeletal system and its associated equations of motion to determine the effect of these crouched gait postures on (1) the capacity of individual muscles to extend the hip and knee joints, which we defined as the angular accelerations of the joints, towards extension, that resulted from applying a 1N muscle force to the model, and (2) the angular acceleration of the joints induced by gravity. Our analysis showed that the capacities of almost all the major hip and knee extensors were markedly reduced in a crouched gait posture, with the exception of the hamstrings muscle group, whose extension capacity was maintained in a crouched posture. Crouch gait also increased the flexion accelerations induced by gravity at the hip and knee throughout single-limb stance. These findings help explain the increased energy requirements and progressive nature of crouch gait in patients with cerebral palsy.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Computer simulations have demonstrated that excessive hip and knee flexion during gait, as frequently seen in ambulatory children with cerebral palsy (CP), can reduce the ability of muscles to provide antigravity support and increase the tendency of hip muscles to internally rotate the thigh. These findings suggest that therapies for improving upright posture during gait also may reduce excessive internal rotation.<h4>Objective</h4>The goal of this study was to determine whether strength training can diminish the degree of crouched, internally rotated gait in children with spastic diplegic CP.<h4>Design</h4>This was a pilot prospective clinical trial.<h4>Methods</h4>Eight children with CP participated in an 8-week progressive resistance exercise program, with 3-dimensional gait analysis and isokinetic testing performed before and after the program. Secondary measures included passive range of motion, the Ashworth Scale, and the PedsQL CP Module. To identify factors that may have influenced outcome, individual and subgroup data were examined for patterns of change within and across variables.<h4>Results</h4>Strength (force-generating capacity) increased significantly in the left hip extensors, with smaller, nonsignificant mean increases in the other 3 extensor muscle groups, yet kinematic and functional outcomes were inconsistent. The first reported subject-specific computer simulations of crouch gait were created for one child who showed substantial benefit to examine the factors that may have contributed to this outcome.<h4>Limitations</h4>The sample was small, with wide variability in outcomes.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Strength training may improve walking function and alignment in some patients for whom weakness is a major contributor to their gait deficits. However, in other patients, it may produce no change or even undesired outcomes. Given the variability of outcomes in this and other strengthening studies in CP, analytical approaches to determine the sources of variability are needed to better identify those individuals who are most likely to benefit from strengthening.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Gait abnormalities from neuromuscular conditions like cerebral palsy (CP) limit mobility and negatively affect quality of life. Increasing walking speed and stride length are essential clinical goals in the treatment of gait disorders from CP.<h4>Research question</h4>How does over-ground gait training with an untethered ankle exoskeleton providing adaptive assistance affect mobility-related spatiotemporal outcomes and lower-extremity muscle activity in people with CP?<h4>Methods</h4>A diverse cohort of individuals with CP (n = 6, age 9-31, Gross Motor Function Classification System Level I - III) completed four over-ground training sessions (98 ± 17 min of assisted walking) and received pre- and post-training assessments. On both assessments, participants walked over-ground with and without the exoskeleton while we recorded spatiotemporal outcomes and muscle activity. We used two-tailed paired t-tests to compare all parameters pre- and post-training, and between assisted and unassisted conditions.<h4>Results</h4>Following training, walking speed increased 0.24 m/s (p = 0.006) and stride length increased 0.17 m (p = 0.013) during unassisted walking, while walking speed increased 0.28 m/s (p = 0.023) and stride length increased 0.15 m (p = 0.002) during exoskeleton-assisted walking. Exoskeleton training improved stride-to-stride repeatability of soleus and vastus lateralis muscle activation by up to 51 % (p ≤ 0.046), while the amount of integrated stance-phase muscle activity was similar across visits and conditions. Relative to baseline, post-training walking with the exoskeleton resulted in a soleus activity pattern that was 39 % more similar to the typical pattern from unimpaired individuals (p < 0.001).<h4>Significance</h4>This study demonstrates acute spatiotemporal and neuromuscular benefits from over-ground training with adaptive ankle exoskeleton assistance, and provides rationale for completion of a longer randomized controlled training protocol.
Project description:Individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) have impaired movement due to a brain injury near birth. Understanding how neuromuscular control is altered in CP can provide insight into pathological movement. We sought to determine if individuals with CP demonstrate reduced complexity of neuromuscular control during gait compared with unimpaired individuals and if changes in control are related to functional ability.Muscle synergies during gait were retrospectively analyzed for 633 individuals (age range 3.9-70y): 549 with CP (hemiplegia, n=122; diplegia, n=266; triplegia, n=73; quadriplegia, n=88) and 84 unimpaired individuals. Synergies were calculated using non-negative matrix factorization from surface electromyography collected during previous clinical gait analyses. Synergy complexity during gait was compared with diagnosis subtype, functional ability, and clinical examination measures.Fewer synergies were required to describe muscle activity during gait in individuals with CP compared with unimpaired individuals. Changes in synergies were related to functional impairment and clinical examination measures including selective motor control, strength, and spasticity.Individuals with CP use a simplified control strategy during gait compared with unimpaired individuals. These results were similar to synergies during walking among adult stroke survivors, suggesting similar neuromuscular control strategies between these clinical populations.
Project description:Individuals with cerebral palsy often exhibit crouch gait, a debilitating and inefficient walking pattern marked by excessive knee flexion that worsens with age. To address the need for improved treatment, we sought to evaluate if providing external knee extension assistance could reduce the excessive burden placed on the knee extensor muscles as measured by knee moments. We evaluated a novel pediatric exoskeleton designed to provide appropriately-timed extensor torque to the knee joint during walking in a multi-week exploratory clinical study. Seven individuals (5-19 years) with mild-moderate crouch gait from cerebral palsy (GMFCS I-II) completed the study. For six participants, powered knee extension assistance favorably reduced the excessive stance-phase knee extensor moment present during crouch gait by a mean of 35% in early stance and 76% in late stance. Peak stance-phase knee and hip extension increased by 12° and 8°, respectively. Knee extensor muscle activity decreased slightly during exoskeleton-assisted walking compared to baseline, while knee flexor activity was elevated in some participants. These findings support the use of wearable exoskeletons for the management of crouch gait and provide insights into their future implementation.