Treatment approaches to flexion contractures of the knee

Istanbul Universitesi Istanbul Tip Fakultesi, Ortopedi ve Travmatoloji Anabilim Dali, 34093 Capa, Istanbul, Turkey.
acta orthopaedica et traumatologica turcica (Impact Factor: 0.61). 01/2009; 43(2):113-20. DOI: 10.3944/AOTT.2009.113
Source: PubMed


The knee is the most affected joint in children with cerebral palsy. Flexion contracture of the knee is the cause of crouch gait pattern, instability in stance phase of gait, and difficulties during standing and sitting, and for daily living activities. It may also cause patella alta, degeneration of the patellofemoral joint, and stress fractures of the patella and tibial tubercle in young adults. Children with cerebral palsy may even give up walking due to its high energy demand in the adult period. The purpose of this article is to review the causes of the knee flexion contractures, clinical and radiological evaluations, and treatment principles in children with cerebral palsy. The biomechanical reasons of knee flexion deformity are discussed in detail in the light of previous studies and gait analysis data.

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    ABSTRACT: Background While several studies have evaluated the short-term effectiveness of conservative and surgical treatment of flexed-knee gait in children with cerebral palsy (CP), few have explored the long-term outcomes using gait analysis. The purpose of this study was to examine, through gait analysis, the 10-year outcomes of flexed-knee gait in children with CP. Methods Ninety-seven children with spastic CP who walked with a flexed-knee gait underwent two gait evaluations [age 6.1 ± 2.1 and 16.2 ± 2.3 years, Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) I (12), II (45), III (37), IV (3)]. Limbs with knee flexion at initial contact >15° were considered walking with a flexed-knee gait and were included in the study (n = 185). Kinematic data were collected using an eight-camera motion analysis system (Motion Analysis, Santa Rosa, CA). Surgical and therapeutic interventions were not controlled. Results A comparison between the two gait studies showed an overall improvement in gait at 10 years follow-up. Significant improvements were seen in knee flexion at initial contact, Gait Deviation Index (GDI), Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM), and gait speed (P < 0.01 for all). Outcome was also evaluated based on the severity of flexed-knee gait at the initial visit, with functional skills and overall gait (GDI) improving in all groups (P < 0.01 for all). The group with a severe flexed-knee gait exhibited the most improvement, while subjects with a mild flexed-knee improved the least. Conclusions Children at a specialty hospital whose orthopedic care included gait analysis and multi-level surgery showed improvement of flexed-knee gait and gross motor function over a 10-year course, regardless of the initial severity.
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    ABSTRACT: To determine inter-rater reliability in identifying a knee extension lag using the sitting active and prone passive lag test (SAPLT). 56 patients with a diagnosis of knee pain were randomly assigned and independently examined by two physical therapists at a time, to determine the presence of an active or a passive extension lag at the knee. An active lag was determined by the inability of the erectly seated subject to actively extend the involved knee in maximal dorsiflexion of the ankle to the same level as the normal knee held in maximal extension and ankle in maximal dorsiflexion, as seen by the levels of the toes. A passive lag was determined by placing the subject prone with the knees just past the edge of the table and determining the high position of the heel in a fully resting extension position compared to the heel on the normal side. For the sitting active lag test, the inter-rater reliability was 'good' (Kappa 0.792, SE of kappa 0.115, 95% confidence interval). For the prone passive lag test, the inter-rater reliability was 'good' (Kappa 0.636, SE of kappa 0.136, 95% confidence interval). The SAPLT may be incorporated as a simple yet effective test to determine the presence of a knee extension lag. It identifies the type of restraint, active, passive or both, and is suggestive of the most appropriate management.
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