The aim of the study was to identify the major determining factors among ankle dysfunctions for walking speed and symmetry in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy.
This was a prospective analysis that included 52 children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, aged between 5 and 8 yrs, had mild spasticity, and were functioning at Gross Motor Function Classification System level I or II. The dorsiflexor and plantar flexor strength, dynamic spasticity (represented by gastrocnemius muscle lengthening velocity during stance phase), plantar flexors stiffness, ankle joint position sense, and walking performance (spatiotemporal parameter) were assessed.
The least absolute shrinkage and selection operator regression analyses showed that the dorsiflexor strength of the paretic limb was the major determining factor of walking speed (R2 = 0.38, P < 0.001). Dynamic spasticity of the plantar flexors explained a portion of the variance in walking speed (R2 = 0.15, P < 0.001) and the highest portion of the variance in spatial walking symmetry (R2 = 0.18, P = 0.002). In addition, the ankle joint position sense was the primary determinant of temporal walking symmetry (R2 = 0.10, P = 0.021).
In children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, walking speed is mostly influenced by dorsiflexor muscle strength, temporal walking symmetry is associated with the joint position sense, whereas spatial walking symmetry is explicated by the dynamic spasticity of the plantar flexor muscles.