Can Clinical Gait Analysis Guide the Management of Ambulant Children With Bilateral Spastic Cerebral Palsy?

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Abstract

Background:

The role of clinical gait analysis in the management of ambulant children with bilateral spastic cerebral palsy (BSCP) is controversial. We hypothesized that gait analysis would allow us to differentiate between children with BSCP who would benefit from surgical intervention and those in whom surgery was not indicated.

Methods:

We reviewed the outcome in 3 groups of children with BSCP referred for treatment recommendations based on gait analysis by looking at changes in the popliteal angle (PA), Gillette Gait Index (GGI), and minimum knee flexion in single support (MKFS) on a subsequent gait analysis. We identified 15 children in whom surgical intervention was not thought to be needed (SNR group) and 15 children who had multilevel surgery recommended but not performed (SND group). We randomly selected and reviewed 15 children referred during the study period who had multilevel surgery recommended and performed following gait analysis (OP group) for comparison.

Results:

The initial PA, MKFS, and GGI were greater in the OP and SND groups compared with the SNR group. Popliteal angle did not change between analyses in the SNR and SND groups and decreased in the OP group (P = 0.004). Minimum knee flexion in single support remained similar between analyses in the SNR group, increased in the SND group (P < 0.0001), and decreased in the OP group (P < 0.0001). The GGI remained similar in the SNR and SND groups but decreased in the OP group (P = 0.0002). The number of children in the SND group showing an increase of more than 10% in the GGI between analyses (8/15) was greater than that in the OP group (0/15) (P = 0.0022). The PA, MKFS, and GGI contributed significantly to the treatment recommendations (P = 0.0013, P = 0.0045, P = 0.0054, respectively), which were not affected by age and Gross Motor Functional Classification System level.

Conclusions:

Gait analysis helped us to distinguish children with BSCP who would benefit from surgery from those in whom nonoperative management was appropriate, and its routine clinical use is encouraged in the management of these children.

Level of Evidence:

Level III, retrospective comparative study.

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