Purpose: To present a new walking aid with axillary support (WAAS) for children with cerebral palsy (CP) and to investigate its impact on the lower limb muscles activation in the gait of children with CP. Method: Six children with spastic diparesis due to CP performed a straight line walking course in two situations: with and without using the WAAS. Each course was repeated three times for both situations, and electromyography (EMG) activity of quadriceps, hamstrings, tibialis anterior and gastrocnemius were recorded during all trials.
Results: The use of WAAS significantly increased the EMG activity of the quadriceps and hamstrings during stance phase and tibialis anterior during swing phase, with no significant increase in gastrocnemius activation.
Conclusion: The use of WAAS improved the synergism of lower limbs muscles of children with CP by reducing the coactivation of antagonistic muscles, especially during the swing phase of gait. Providing a walking aid with improved trunk stability may enable children with CP to improve muscular synergism and walking ability, thus favoring independent mobility, with possible gains in social participation and quality of life. Implications for Rehabilitation Children with cerebral palsy have problems with the development of normal gait, as a result of the reduced motor control and the impaired muscle synergism of the lower limbs. Standard walking aids do not provide proper trunk stability for this group of children. In a relatively small sample of children with cerebral palsy, a walking aid with axillary support was shown to be beneficial for the muscular synergism of the lower limbs during gait.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Sao Carlos Engineering School, University of Sao Carlos , Sao Carlos (SP) , Brazil .