Functional popliteal angle tests improve identification of short hamstring muscle-tendon length in patients with a central neurological lesion

Mahdieh Hajibozorgi*, Ilse Leijen, Juha M Hijmans, Christian Greve

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study introduces a functional exercise protocol to improve the identification for short hamstring muscle-tendon length (HMTL), a common contributor to crouch gait in patients with central neurological lesions (CNL). The functional exercise protocol incorporates a knee extension movement with hip in a flexed position, while standing on one leg (functional popliteal angle test) and walking with large steps to the current standard protocol (walking at comfortable speed and as fast as possible). The main aim was to establish whether the new protocol allows better determination of maximum HMTLs and diagnostics of short HMTL in patients with a CNL. Lower limb 3D marker position data from 39 patient limbs and 10 healthy limbs performing the exercises were processed in OpenSim to extract HMTLs. The new protocol provoked significantly larger HMTLs compared to the current standard protocol. The total number of limbs classified as having too short HMTLs reduced from 16 to 4 out of a total of 30 limbs walking in crouch. The new protocol improves determination of maximum HMTL, thereby improving short HMTL diagnostics and identification of patients in need of lengthening treatment. Inter-individual variability observed among patients, indicating the need to include all exercises for comprehensive diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20510
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 22-Nov-2023


  • Humans
  • Hamstring Muscles
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Gait
  • Tendons
  • Knee Joint

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