A new strength assessment to evaluate the association between muscle weakness and gait pathology in children with cerebral palsy

Marije Goudriaan*, Angela Nieuwenhuys, Simon Henri Schless, Nathalie Goemans, Guy Molenaers, Kaat Desloovere

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aim The main goal of this validation study was to evaluate whether lower limb muscle weakness and plantar flexor rate of force development (RFD) related to altered gait parameters in children with cerebral palsy (CP), when weakness was assessed with maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVICs) in a gait related test position. As a subgoal, we analyzed intra- and intertester reliability of this new strength measurement method. Methods Part 1 –Intra- and intertester reliability were determined with the intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC2,1) in 10 typical developing (TD) children (age: 5–15). We collected MVICs in four lower limb muscle groups to define maximum joint torques, as well as plantar flexor RFD. Part 2 –Validity of the strength assessment was explored by analyzing the relations of lower limb joint torques and RFD to a series of kinematic- and kinetic gait features, the GDI (gait deviation index), and the GDI-kinetic in 23 children with CP (GMFCS I-II; age: 5–15) and 23 TD children (age: 5–15) with Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients. Results Part 1 –The best reliability was found for the torque data (Nm), with the highest ICC2,1 (0.951) for knee extension strength (inter) and the lowest (0.693) for dorsiflexion strength (intra). For plantar flexor RFD, the most reliable window size was 300 milliseconds (ICC2,1: 0.828 (inter) and 0.692 (intra)). Part 2 –The children with CP were significantly weaker than the TD children (p <0.001). Weakness of the dorsiflexors and plantar flexors associated with delayed and decreased knee flexion angle during swing, respectively. No other significant correlations were found. Conclusion While our new strength assessment was reliable, intra-joint correlations between weakness, RFD, and gait deviations were low. However, we found inter-joint associations, reflected by a strong association between plantar- and dorsiflexor weakness, and decreased and delayed knee flexion angle during swing.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0191097
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


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