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Voluntary (normal) versus obligatory (cerebral palsy) toe-walking in children: a kinematic, kinetic, and electromyographic analysis.

Surgical management of toe-walking gait in children with cerebral palsy currently favors simultaneous, multilevel soft-tissue and bony interventions. Formulation of such a surgical plan is based on our ability to determine which of the gait deviations present are primary and which are secondary or compensatory. To evaluate this issue further, 32 normal children, walking normally and voluntarily toe-walking, were compared to 15 children with cerebral palsy walking in an obligatory toe-walking gait pattern. Computer-based analysis of gait was performed for each child, including time-distance, kinematic, kinetic, and electromyographic analyses. Significant deviations common to both normal and cerebral palsy toe-walking groups were determined to be due, at least in part, to the biomechanical constraints associated with a toe-walking gait pattern. Deviations unique to the cerebral palsy group were thought to represent primary gait deviations related to the underlying injury to the central nervous system. This study identifies the need to develop more sophisticated techniques of data collection and analysis and supports the inclusion of more varied and demanding functional activities for distinguishing between primary and secondary gait deviations in children with cerebral palsy.

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