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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank the staff of the James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. This work was funded by NIH grants R01 HD033929 , R24 HD065690 , and U54 GM072970 , and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
- Cerebral palsy
- Crouch gait