Spinal fusion limits upper body range of motion during gait without inducing compensatory mechanisms in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients

R. M. Holewijn*, I. Kingma, M. de Kleuver, J. J.P. Schimmel, N. L.W. Keijsers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction Previous studies show a limited alteration of gait at normal walking speed after spinal fusion surgery for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), despite the presumed essential role of spinal mobility during gait. This study analyses how spinal fusion affects gait at more challenging walking speeds. More specifically, we investigated whether thoracic-pelvic rotations are reduced to a larger extent at higher gait speeds and whether compensatory mechanisms above and below the stiffened spine are present. Methods 18 AIS patients underwent gait analysis at increasing walking speeds (0.45 to 2.22 m/s) before and after spinal fusion. The range of motion (ROM) of the upper (thorax, thoracic-pelvic and pelvis) and lower body (hip, knee and ankle) was determined in all three planes. Spatiotemporal parameters of interest were stride length and cadence. Results Spinal fusion diminished transverse plane thoracic-pelvic ROM and this difference was more explicit at higher walking speeds. Transversal pelvis ROM was also decreased but this effect was not affected by speed. Lower body ROM, step length and cadence remained unaffected. Discussion Despite the reduction of upper body ROM after spine surgery during high speed gait, no altered spatiotemporal parameters or increased compensatory ROM above or below the fusion (i.e. in the shoulder girdle or lower extremities) was identified. Thus, it remains unclear how patients can cope so well with such major surgery. Future studies should focus on analyzing the kinematics of individual spinal levels above and below the fusion during gait to investigate possible compensatory mechanisms within the spine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalGait and Posture
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

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