Crouched posture maximizes ground reaction forces generated by muscles

Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, & Biomedical Engineering, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-2210, USA.
Gait & posture (Impact Factor: 2.75). 04/2012; 36(3):405-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2012.03.020
Source: PubMed


Crouch gait decreases walking efficiency due to the increased knee and hip flexion during the stance phase of gait. Crouch gait is generally considered to be disadvantageous for children with cerebral palsy; however, a crouched posture may allow biomechanical advantages that lead some children to adopt a crouch gait. To investigate one possible advantage of crouch gait, a musculoskeletal model created in OpenSim was placed in 15 different postures from upright to severe crouch during initial, middle, and final stance of the gait cycle for a total of 45 different postures. A series of optimizations was performed for each posture to maximize transverse plane ground reaction forces in the eight compass directions by modifying muscle forces acting on the model. We compared the force profile areas across all postures. Larger force profile areas were allowed by postures from mild crouch (for initial stance) to crouch (for final stance). The overall ability to generate larger ground reaction force profiles represents a mechanical advantage of a crouched posture. This increase in muscle capacity while in a crouched posture may allow a patient to generate new movements to compensate for impairments associated with cerebral palsy, such as motor control deficits.

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    ABSTRACT: Excessive tibial torsion, a rotational deformity about the long axis of the tibia, is common in patients with cerebral palsy who walk with a crouch gait. Previous research suggests that this deformity may contribute to crouch gait by reducing the capacity of soleus to extend the knee; however, the effects of excess external torsion on the capacity of other muscles to extend the stance limb during walking are unknown. A computer model of the musculoskeletal system was developed to simulate a range of tibial torsion deformities. A dynamic analysis was then performed to determine the effect of these deformities on the capacity of lower limb muscles to extend the hip and knee at body positions corresponding to the single-limb stance phase of a normal gait cycle. Analysis of the model confirmed that excessive external torsion reduces the extension capacity of soleus. In addition, our analysis revealed that several important muscles crossing the hip and knee are also adversely affected by excessive tibial torsion. With a tibial torsion deformity of 30 degrees , the capacities of soleus, posterior gluteus medius, and gluteus maximus to extend both the hip and knee were all reduced by over 10%. Since a tibial torsion deformity reduces the capacity of muscles to extend the hip and knee, it may be a significant contributor to crouch gait, especially when greater than 30 degrees from normal, and thus should be considered by clinicians when making treatment decisions.
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