Skeletal Muscle Adaptations and Passive Muscle Stiffness in Cerebral Palsy: A Literature Review and Conceptual Model

Alif Laila Tisha, Ashley Allison Armstrong, Amy Jaye Wagoner Johnson, Citlali Lopez-Ortiz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This literature review focuses on the primary morphological and structural characteristics, and mechanical properties identified in muscles affected by spastic cerebral palsy (CP). CP is a nonprogressive neurological disorder caused by brain damage and is commonly diagnosed at birth. Although the brain damage is not progressive, subsequent neurophysiological developmental adaptations may initiate changes in muscle structure, function, and composition, causing abnormal muscle activity and coordination. The symptoms of CP vary among patients. However, muscle spasticity is commonly present and is one of the most debilitating effects of CP. Here, we present the current knowledge regarding the mechanical properties of skeletal tissue affected by spastic CP. An increase in sarcomere length, collagen content, and fascicle diameter, and a reduction in the number of satellite cells within spastic CP muscle were consistent findings in the literature. However, studies differed in changes in fascicle lengths and fiber diameters. We also present a conceptual mechanical model of fascicle force transmission that incorporates mechanisms which impact both serial and lateral force production, highlighting the connections between the macro and micro structures of muscle to assist in deducing specific mechanisms for property changes and reduced force production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-79
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Biomechanics
Issue number1
Early online dateSep 12 2018
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Force transmission
  • Mechanical modeling
  • Mechanical properties
  • Muscle microstructure
  • Spasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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