Research in Developmental Disabilities vol:33 issue:6 pages:1996-2003
Gait efficiency in children with cerebral palsy is decreased. To date, most research did not include the upper body as a separate functional unit when exploring these changes in gait efficiency. Since children with spastic diplegia often experience problems with trunk control, they could benefit from separate evaluation of the so-called 'passenger unit'. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to improve insights in the role of the passenger unit in decreased gait efficiency in children with diplegia. Mechanical cost of walking was investigated by calculating work by the integrated joint power approach in 18 children with diplegia and 25 age-related typical developing controls. The total mechanical work in children with diplegia was 1.5 times higher than in typical children. In children with diplegia work at the lower limbs was increased by 37% compared to typical children. Substantially higher increases, up to 222%, were noted at the passenger unit. Trunk and head were the main contributors to the increased work of the passenger unit, but the role of the arms cannot be neglected. Due to these disproportional increases in locomotor and passenger unit, the demands of the passenger unit in pathological gait can no longer be considered minor, as in typical gait. Therefore, the role of the passenger unit must be recognized in the decrease of gait efficiency in children with spastic diplegia and should be part of the evaluation of gait efficiency in clinical practice.