The purpose of this study was to compare estimates of gastrocnemius muscle length (GML) obtained using a segmented versus straight-line model in children. Kinematic data were acquired on eleven typically developing children as they walked under the following conditions: normal gait, crouch gait, equinus gait, and crouch with equinus gait. Maximum and minimum GML, and GML change were calculated using two models: straight-line and segmented. A two-way RMANOVA was used to compare GML characteristics. Results indicated that maximum GML and GML change during simulated pathological gait patterns were influenced by model used to calculate gastrocnemius muscle length (interaction: P = .004 and P = .026). Maximum GML was lower in the simulated gait patterns compared with normal gait (P < .001). Maximum GML was higher with the segmented model compared with the straight-line model (P = .030). Using either model, GML change in equinus gait and crouch with equinus gait was lower compared with normal gait (P < .001). Overall, minimum GML estimated with the segmented model was higher compared with the straight-line model (P < .01). The key findings of our study indicate that GML is significantly affected by both gait pattern and method of estimation. The GML estimates tended to be lower with the straight-line model versus the segmented model.
Smita Rao (Corresponding Author) is with the Department of Physical Therapy, New York University, New York, NY. Fred Dietz is with the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA. H. John Yack is with the Graduate Program in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.