Image_1_Movement History Influences Pendulum Test Kinematics in Children With Spastic Cerebral Palsy.TIF (1.39 MB)
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Image_1_Movement History Influences Pendulum Test Kinematics in Children With Spastic Cerebral Palsy.TIF

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posted on 07.08.2020, 04:04 by Jente Willaert, Kaat Desloovere, Anja Van Campenhout, Lena H. Ting, Friedl De Groote

The pendulum test assesses quadriceps spasticity by dropping the lower leg of a relaxed patient from the horizontal position and observing limb movement. The first swing excursion (FS) decreases with increasing spasticity severity. Our recent simulation study suggests that the reduced initial swing results from muscle short-range stiffness and its interaction with reflex hyper-excitability. Short-range stiffness emerges from the thixotropic behavior of muscles where fiber stiffness upon stretch increases when the muscle is held isometric. Fiber stiffness might thus be higher during the first swing of the pendulum test than during consecutive swings. In addition, it has recently been suggested that muscle spindle firing reflects fiber force rather than velocity and therefore, reflex activity might depend on fiber stiffness. If this hypothesized mechanism is true, we expect to observe larger first swing excursions and reduced reflex muscle activity when the leg is moved rather than kept isometric before release, especially in patients with increased reflex activity. We performed the pendulum test in 15 children with cerebral palsy (CP) and 15 age-matched typically developing (TD) children in two conditions. In the hold condition, the leg was kept isometric in the extended position before release. In the movement condition, the leg was moved up and down before release to reduce the contribution of short-range stiffness. Knee kinematics and muscle activity were recorded. Moving the leg before release increased first swing excursion (p < 0.001) and this increase was larger in children with CP (21°) than in TD children (8°) (p < 0.005). In addition, pre-movement delayed reflex onset by 87 ms (p < 0.05) and reduced reflex activity as assessed through the area under the curve of rectus femoris electromyography (p < 0.05) in children with CP. The movement history dependence of pendulum kinematics and reflex activity supports our hypothesis that muscle short-range stiffness and its interaction with reflex hyper-excitability contribute to joint hyper-resistance in spastic CP. Our results have implications for standardizing movement history in clinical tests of spasticity and for understanding the role of spasticity in functional movements, where movement history differs from movement history in clinical tests.

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