The coupled effects of crouch gait and patella alta on tibiofemoral and patellofemoral cartilage loading in children

Scott C.E. Brandon, Darryl G. Thelen, Colin R. Smith, Tom F. Novacheck, Michael H Schwartz, Rachel L. Lenhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background Elevated tibiofemoral and patellofemoral loading in children who exhibit crouch gait may contribute to skeletal deformities, pain, and cessation of walking ability. Surgical procedures used to treat crouch frequently correct knee extensor insufficiency by advancing the patella. However, there is little quantitative understanding of how the magnitudes of crouch and patellofemoral correction affect cartilage loading in gait. Methods We used a computational musculoskeletal model to simulate the gait of twenty typically developing children and fifteen cerebral palsy patients who exhibited mild, moderate, and severe crouch. For each walking posture, we assessed the influence of patella alta and baja on tibiofemoral and patellofemoral cartilage contact. Results Tibiofemoral and patellofemoral contact pressures during the stance phase of normal gait averaged 2.2 and 1.0 MPa. Crouch gait increased pressure in both the tibofemoral (2.6–4.3 MPa) and patellofemoral (1.8–3.3 MPa) joints, while also shifting tibiofemoral contact to the posterior tibial plateau. For extended-knee postures, normal patellar positions (Insall-Salvatti ratio 0.8–1.2) concentrated contact on the middle third of the patellar cartilage. However, in flexed knee postures, both normal and baja patellar positions shifted pressure toward the superior edge of the patella. Moving the patella into alta restored pressure to the middle region of the patellar cartilage as crouch increased. Conclusions This work illustrates the potential to dramatically reduce tibiofemoral and patellofemoral cartilage loading by surgically correcting crouch gait, and highlights the interaction between patella position and knee posture in modulating the location of patellar contact during functional activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalGait and Posture
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health [grant numbers R21HD084213 , U01EB015410 , F30AR065838 , UL1TR000427 , and T32GM00869 ]. And NSERC (Postdoctoral Fellowship - SCEB).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Cartilage contact pressure
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Knee mechanics
  • Patella baja
  • Patellofemoral joint

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