Content » Vol 42, Issue 7

Original report

Dynamic spasticity of plantar flexor muscles in cerebral palsy gait

Marjolein M. van der Krogt, Caroline A.M. Doorenbosch, Jules B. Becher, Jaap Harlaar
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0579


Objective: To quantify dynamic spasticity, i.e. the coupling between muscle-tendon stretch velocity and muscle activity during gait, of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in children with spastic cerebral palsy.
Design: Prospective, cross-sectional study.
Subjects: Seventeen ambulatory children with cerebral palsy with spastic calf muscles, and 11 matched typically developing children.
Methods: The children walked at 3 different speeds. Three-dimensional kinematic and electromyographic data were collected. Muscle-tendon velocities of the gastrocnemius medialis and soleus were calculated using musculoskeletal modelling.
Results: In typically developing children, muscles were stretched fast in swing without subsequent muscle activity, while spastic muscles were stretched more slowly for the same walking speed, followed by an increase in muscle activity. The mean ratio between peak activity and peak stretch velocity in swing was approximately 4 times higher in spastic muscles, and increased with walking speed. In stance, the stretch of muscles in typically developing children was followed by an increase in muscle activity. Spastic muscles were stretched fast in loading response, but since muscle activity was already built up in swing, no clear dynamic spasticity effect was present.
Conclusion: Spastic calf muscles showed increased coupling between muscle-tendon stretch velocity and muscle activity, especially during the swing phase of gait.

Lay Abstract


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