Background: Physiological human gait is characterized by changes of foot and knee angle that make the gait efficient and not require excessive energy expenditure. In cerebral palsied children, the foot-knee relationship is disturbed by pathological synergies. Therefore, ways to improve this situation are sought. The aim of the study was to verify whether and how well the use of botulinum toxin or inhibitive casts alters the behaviour of the foot-knee complex in cerebral palsy gait.
Material and methods: The study involved 34 hemiparetic children with cerebral palsy aged 7-14 years who were able to walk unassisted. Neurodevelopmental treatment according to the NDT-Bobath method was given to all the children. Two groups were formed. In the first group of 16 children, inhibitive castings were used. The second group of 18 children received Btx-A injections. Gait analysis was performed at baseline and one month after administering these additional treatments. The CMS-HS ultrasonic system (Zebris) was used for three dimensional gait analysis.
Results: Apart from the pattern asymmetry characteristic of a hemiplegic gait, various pronounced abnormalities of the foot-knee complex were observed. Following treatment, gait symmetry improved in both groups as did the position of the hemiparetic foot in the mid-support phase. In the inhibitive casting groups, similar improvements were also observed in the initial contact phase. In the knee, greater improvement in knee was noted in the Btx-A group.
Conclusions: Btx-A injections or inhibitive casts improve gait parameters in cerebral palsied children. This improvement is individual and seen in different stages of the support phase, but of similar magnitude following the use of either treatment. Achieving simultaneous improvement in the knee and foot is difficult.