The Achilles tendon is one of the most frequently injured tendons in humans, and yet the mechanisms underlying its injury are not well understood. This study examines the ex vivo mechanical behavior of excised human Achilles tendons to elucidate the relationships between mechanical loading and Achilles tendon injury. Eighteen tendons underwent creep testing at constant stresses from 35 to 75 MPa. Another 25 tendons underwent sinusoidal cyclic loading at 1 Hz between a minimum stress of 10 MPa and maximum stresses of 30-80 MPa. For the creep specimens, there was no significant relationship between applied stress and time to failure, but time to failure decreased exponentially with increasing initial strain (strain when target stress is first reached) and decreasing failure strain. For the cyclically loaded specimens, secant modulus decreased and cyclic energy dissipation increased over time. Time and cycles to failure decreased exponentially with increasing applied stress, increasing initial strain (peak strain from first loading cycle), and decreasing failure strain. For both creep and cyclic loading, initial strain was the best predictor of time or cycles to failure, supporting the hypothesis that strain is the primary mechanical parameter governing tendon damage accumulation and injury. The cyclically loaded specimens failed faster than would be expected if only time-dependent damage occurred, suggesting that repetitive loading also contributes to Achilles tendon injuries.
Muscle adiposity values obtained with three-point Dixon MRI are accurate in assessment of disease severity in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Because they are not influenced by patient effort or examiner variability, these measurements are more objective and reproducible than measurements of muscle strength.
Background: Although botulinum toxin A is frequently used to augment serial casting in the treatment of soft-tissue contractures in children with cerebral palsy, its effectiveness for this purpose has not been evaluated. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether botulinum toxin A injection increases the efficacy of serial casting. Methods: A prospective, randomized trial was undertaken to compare serial casting only with serial casting combined with botulinum toxin A (Botox) injection for the treatment of ankle equinus contractures in twenty-three children with cerebral palsy. Range-of-motion testing, spasticity assessment, and computerized gait analysis were performed as long as twelve months after treatment. Results: There was no difference between the groups with regard to the duration of casting required to correct the equinus contracture. Both groups maintained a significant improvement in passive ankle dorsiflexion throughout the follow-up period, although the group managed with casting and Botox had a significant loss of dorsiflexion when the values at six, nine, and twelve months were compared with the value at three months. Peak dorsiflexion during the stance and swing phases was significantly improved in both groups at three months but only in the group managed with casting alone at twelve months. Plantar flexor spasticity was significantly decreased at three months in both groups, but it was significantly decreased at six, nine, and twelve months only in the group managed with casting alone. Spasticity was significantly greater in the group managed with casting and Botox than it was in the group managed with casting only at six, nine, and twelve months. Conclusions: The present study demonstrates the efficacy of serial casting in the treatment of equinus contractures in children with cerebral palsy who are able to walk. Contrary to our hypothesis, the addition of botulinum toxin A to a serial casting regimen led to earlier recurrence of spasticity, contracture, and equinus during gait. The results of the present study suggest that botulinum toxin combined with serial casting for the treatment of fixed contractures will lead to a recurrence of plantar flexor spasticity and equinus contracture by six months in this patient population. While previous research has indicated that the injection of botulinum toxin A is superior to casting for the treatment of dynamic equinus, the present study suggests that serial casting alone is preferable for the treatment of fixed equinus contractures in children with cerebral palsy.
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