Skeletal Muscle Adaptations and Passive Muscle Stiffness in Cerebral Palsy: A Literature Review and Conceptual Model

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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  • 1 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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This literature review focuses on the primary morphological and structural characteristics, and mechanical properties identified in muscles affected by spastic cerebral palsy (CP). CP is a nonprogressive neurological disorder caused by brain damage and is commonly diagnosed at birth. Although the brain damage is not progressive, subsequent neurophysiological developmental adaptations may initiate changes in muscle structure, function, and composition, causing abnormal muscle activity and coordination. The symptoms of CP vary among patients. However, muscle spasticity is commonly present and is one of the most debilitating effects of CP. Here, we present the current knowledge regarding the mechanical properties of skeletal tissue affected by spastic CP. An increase in sarcomere length, collagen content, and fascicle diameter, and a reduction in the number of satellite cells within spastic CP muscle were consistent findings in the literature. However, studies differed in changes in fascicle lengths and fiber diameters. We also present a conceptual mechanical model of fascicle force transmission that incorporates mechanisms which impact both serial and lateral force production, highlighting the connections between the macro and micro structures of muscle to assist in deducing specific mechanisms for property changes and reduced force production.

Tisha and López-Ortiz are with the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA. Armstrong and Wagoner Johnson are with the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA. Wagoner Johnson is also with the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, USA; and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, USA. López-Ortiz is also affiliated with the Center for Health Aging and Disability, the Neuroscience Program, and the Illinois Informatics Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Tisha and Armstrong contributed equally.

Wagoner Johnson (ajwj@illinois.edu) and López-Ortiz (lopezort@illinois.edu) are corresponding authors.
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