Gait characteristics following Achilles tendon elongation: the foot rocker perspective

The action of three functional rockers, namely the heel, ankle and forefoot rocker, assist the progression of the leg over the supporting foot. The purpose of this case series was to analyze the occurrence of foot rockers during gait in three children with cerebral palsy (CP) who had undergone the tendo-Achilles lengthening (TAL), procedure followed by a clinic- or home-based intervention and in one child with CP without history of surgery. Self-selected gait was video-recorded in a laboratory during six testing sessions at half-year intervals rendering a 3 year period of observation. One child had pre- and post-surgical gait data and the other two had post surgical data only. Sagittal plane knee angular velocity, as well as foot to ground positions, and foot rocker occurrence were analyzed. In a child with history of CP, and without history of surgery, mean angular velocities of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd foot rocker were 3.7, 0.57 and 6.67 rad/s, respectively, and the step length and cadence were normal. In children who underwent TAL the 1st and 2nd rocker was absent, as the initial contact of the foot with the ground was either with foot-flat or forefoot. The mean velocity of the 3rd rocker in children who underwent TAL was lower by approximately 50-80% than that of the nonsurgical case. Furthermore, the characteristic pattern of the knee joint to foot-floor position during gait was not observed in these cases. Foot rocker analysis identified children with abnormal gait characteristics. Following surgery these gait characteristics remained abnormal.

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