Gait status 17-26 years after selective dorsal rhizotomy

Nelleke G. Langerak, Nicholas Tam, Christopher L. Vaughan, A. Graham Fieggen, Michael H. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to use three-dimensional gait analysis to describe the gait status of adults with spastic diplegia who underwent selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) in childhood. Outcome measures were the gait deviation index (GDI), non-dimensional temporal-distance parameters, and kinematics of the lower limbs.A total of 31 adults with spastic diplegia who had previously undergone SDR were eligible and participated in current study (SDR group). These participants had a median age of 26.8 years (range 21-44 years) with a mean time between surgery and assessment of 21.2±2.9 years (range 17-26 years). For comparison purposes, 43 typically developed adults also participated (CONTROL group), with a median age of 28.3 years (range 21-45 years). More than 17 years after SDR 58% of the SDR group showed improved GMFCS levels, while none of them deteriorated. The participants in the SDR group walked with a mild crouch gait, although there was a loading response, adequate swing-phase knee flexion, adequate swing-phase plantarflexion, reasonable speed and cadence. The gait status of the SDR group more than 17 years after SDR was similar to what has been reported in short-term follow-up studies, as well as our earlier 20 year follow-up study that did not include 3D gait analysis. Appropriate orthopaedic intervention was required in 61% of the study cohort. Whether the types and numbers of orthopaedic interventions are positively affected by SDR remains an open question. Further studies examining this question are warranted. In addition, long-term follow-up studies focused on other interventions would also be of clinical relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-249
Number of pages6
JournalGait and Posture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Medical Research Council of South Africa . In addition, collaboration between South Africa and USA was financially supported by the International Society of Biomechanics (ISB) Council . Conflict of interest

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Gait
  • Long-term
  • Outcome
  • Selective dorsal rhizotomy


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