Spasticity and strength changes as a function of selective dorsal rhizotomy

Jack R. Engsberg, Kenneth S. Olree, Sandy A. Ross, T. S. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Object. The goal of this investigation was to quantify changes in hamstring muscle spasticity and strength in children with cerebral palsy (CP) as a function of their having undergone a selective dorsal rhizotomy. Methods. Nineteen children with CP (CP group) and six children with able bodies (AB group) underwent testing with a dynamometer. For the spasticity measure, the dynamometer measured the resistive torque of the hamstring muscles during passive knee extension at four different speeds. Torque-angle data were processed to calculate the work done by the machine to extend the knee for each speed. Linear regression was used to calculate the slope of the line of best fit for the work-velocity data. The slope simultaneously encompassed three key elements associated with spasticity (velocity, resistance, and stretch) and was considered the measure of spasticity. For the strength test, the dynamometer moved the leg from full knee extension to flexion while a maximum concentric contraction of the hamstring muscles was performed. Torque-angle data were processed to calculate the work done on the machine by the child. Hamstring spasticity values for the CP group were significantly greater than similar values for the AB group prior to surgery; however, they were not significantly different after surgery. Hamstring strength values for the CP group remained significantly less than those for the AB group after surgery, but were significantly increased relative to their presurgery values. Conclusions. The results of spasticity testing in the present investigation agreed with those of previous studies, indicating a reduction in spasticity for the CP group. The results of strength testing did not agree with those in the previous literature; a significant increase in strength was observed for the CP group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1020-1026
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1998


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Dynamometer
  • Hamstring
  • Rhizotomy
  • Spasticity
  • Strength


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