The influence of wearing an ultrasound device on gait in children with cerebral palsy and typically developing children

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Background: Ultrasonography with motion analysis enables dynamic imaging of medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles and tendons during gait. This revealed pathological muscle-tendon dynamics in children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP) compared to typically developing (TD) children. However, wearing an ultrasound probe on the lower leg could interfere with gait and bias muscle length changes observed with ultrasound. Research question: Does wearing an ultrasound probe on the MG influence gait in children with CP and TD children? Methods: Eighteen children with spastic CP and 16 age-matched TD children walked at comfortable walking speed on an instrumented treadmill. One baseline gait condition (BASE) and two conditions with an ultrasound probe and custom-made probe holder were measured: on the mid-muscle fascicles (FAS) and on the muscle-tendon junction (MTJ). The effect of condition and group on spatiotemporal parameters, hip, knee and ankle kinematics, ankle moment, ankle power, and modeled MG muscle-tendon unit (MTU) length was assessed using two-way repeated measures ANOVA's. Statistical non-parametric mapping was applied for time-series. Post-hoc paired-samples t-tests were conducted, and the root mean square difference was calculated for significant parts. Results: Children took wider steps during FAS (CP, TD) and MTJ (TD) compared to BASE, and during FAS compared to MTJ (CP). Hip extension was lower (2.7°) during terminal stance for MTJ compared to FAS for TD only. There was less swing knee flexion (FAS 4.9°; MTJ 4.0°) and ankle plantarflexion around toe-off (FAS 3.0°; MTJ 2.4°) for both ultrasound placements, with no group effect. Power absorption during loading response was slightly increased for both ultrasound placements (0.12 W/kg), with no group effect. MTU shortened less in swing for both ultrasound placements (FAS 3.6 mm; MTJ 3.7 mm), with no group effect. Significance: Wearing an ultrasound probe causes minimal lower-limb gait alterations and MTU length changes that are mostly similar in CP and TD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-144
Number of pages7
JournalGait and Posture
Early online date11 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Dynamic imaging
  • Fascicles
  • Medial gastrocnemius
  • Muscle-tendon unit
  • Treadmill walking

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