Cerebral palsy (CP) is caused by a lesion to the brain resulting in adaptations to the structure and function of the muscles and compromised mobility. Spastic cerebral palsy is commonly assessed by the limb kinematics and kinetics measured in a gait laboratory. However, these measures do not directly quantify the patterns of muscle dysfunction that occur during movements. Recent studies have shown that electromyographic (EMG) signals from children with CP have abnormal magnitude, timing and frequency content. Here we demonstrate how wavelet decomposition of the EMG signals into time-frequency space coupled to principal component analysis of the EMG spectra can be used as a powerful tool to quantify the patterns of muscle dysfunction. Data were compared between 17 children with spastic diplegic CP and 36 asymptomatic controls for the rectus femoris, semimembranosus, medial gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior muscles. CP muscle generated higher mean EMG frequencies. Imbalances in activity between the tibialis anterior and medial gatrocnemius contributed to equinus ankle during the swing phase. Patterns of co-activations between antagonistic muscles differed between CP and asymptomatic patients and were EMG frequency dependent. Muscle dysfunction was greater in the distal compared to the proximal lower limb. Muscle dysfunction between the tibialis anterior and medial gastrocnemius was distinguished with 96% sensitivity at 95% specificity.
- Cerebral palsy