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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 5020348, 12 pages
Research Article

Kinematic and EMG Responses to Pelvis and Leg Assistance Force during Treadmill Walking in Children with Cerebral Palsy

1Sensor Motor Performance Program, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
2Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL 60611, USA

Received 27 March 2016; Revised 21 July 2016; Accepted 2 August 2016

Academic Editor: Sheng Li

Copyright © 2016 Ming Wu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Treadmill training has been used for improving locomotor function in children with cerebral palsy (CP), but the functional gains are relatively small, suggesting a need to improve current paradigms. The understanding of the kinematic and EMG responses to forces applied to the body of subjects during treadmill walking is crucial for improving current paradigms. The objective of this study was to determine the kinematics and EMG responses to the pelvis and/or leg assistance force. Ten children with spastic CP were recruited to participate in this study. A controlled assistance force was applied to the pelvis and/or legs during stance and swing phase of gait through a custom designed robotic system during walking. Muscle activities and spatial-temporal gait parameters were measured at different loading conditions during walking. In addition, the spatial-temporal gait parameters during overground walking before and after treadmill training were also collected. Applying pelvis assistance improved step height and applying leg assistance improved step length during walking, but applying leg assistance also reduced muscle activation of ankle flexor during the swing phase of gait. In addition, step length and self-selected walking speed significantly improved after one session of treadmill training with combined pelvis and leg assistance.