Changes in ankle spasticity and strength following selective dorsal rhizotomy and physical therapy for spastic cerebral palsy

Jack R. Engsberg, Sandy A. Ross, Tae Sung Park

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53 Scopus citations


Object. In this investigation the authors quantified changes in ankle plantarflexor spasticity and strength following selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) and intensive physical therapy in patients with cerebral palsy (CP). Methods. Twenty-five patients with cerebral palsy (CP group) and 12 able- bodied volunteers (AB controls) were tested with a dynamometer. For the spasticity measure, the dynamometer was used to measure the resistive torque of the plantarflexors during passive ankle dorsiflexion at five different speeds. Data were processed to yield a single value that simultaneously encompassed the three key elements associated with spasticity: velocity, resistance, and stretch. For the strength test, the dynamometer rotated the ankle from full dorsiflexion to full plantarflexion while a maximum concentric contraction of the plantarflexors was performed. Torque angle data were processed to include the work done by the patient or volunteer on the machine. Plantarflexor spasticity values for the CP group were significantly greater than similar values for the AB control group prior to surgery but not significantly different after surgery. Plantarflexor strength values of the CP group were significantly less than those of the AB control group pre- and postsurgery. Postsurgery strength values did not change relative to presurgery values. Conclusions. The spasticity results of the present investigation agreed with those of previous studies indicating a reduction in spasticity for the CP group. The strength results did not agree with the findings of most previous related literature, which indicated that a decrease in strength should have occurred. The strength results agreed with a previous investigation in which knee flexor strength was objectively examined, indicating that strength did not decrease as a consequence of an SDR. The methods of this investigation could be used to improve SDR patient selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-732
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1999


  • Ankle
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Dynamometer
  • Rhizotomy
  • Spasticity
  • Strength


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