Characteristics associated with improved knee extension after strength training for individuals with cerebral palsy and crouch gait
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. © 2012 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved.