Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Kinesiology and Health Promotion

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Shapiro

Second Advisor

Dr. Hank White


INTRODUCTION: Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a sensorimotor disorder characterized by dysfunctional motor coordination, balance problems, and loss of selective motor control. Motor coordination exhibited as co-contraction, has been subjectively quantified using gait analysis, but recent studies have begun to objectively analyze the amount of co-contraction by collecting electromyography (EMG) data. Center of pressure excursion (COPE) measurements collected during a single leg standing test (SLST) have shown to be more valid measurements of balance in populations with motor disabilities than a SLST alone. A recent study has correlated increased COPE velocity with a lower fall risk as determined by reported fall frequency, suggesting a more objective measure of fall risk. The current study aimed to determine if the fall risk calculated by COPE velocity in children with CP is correlated with co-contraction index value in various muscle synergy groups. It was hypothesized that i) co-contraction index values will differ between high and low fall risk groups, ii) there will be preferential activation of different synergy groups within the high and low fall risk groups, and iii) there will be a negative and direct correlation between COPE velocity and co-contraction index values for all synergy groups. METHODS: Fall risk grouping was determined by average COPE velocity values calculated from previously reported fall frequency groups. Balance ability was determined by COPE measurements during a SLST on a force plate. Muscle synergy groups were determined by common muscle pairings at the hip, knee and ankle. Co-contraction indices were determined from linear envelopes plotted from muscle group EMG data. An independent t-test was run on muscle synergy groups between high and low fall risk groups. Nonparametric Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Tukey post-hoc tests were run on the high and low fall risk groups separately to determine differences in co-contraction index value within high and low fall risk groups. A Pearson correlation analyzed COPE velocity and co-contraction index value. RESULTS: No significant differences in muscle synergy between the high and low fall risk groups were found (p = 0.476, 0.076, 0.064, 0.364). The ANOVA and Tukey post-hoc tests for high fall risk group found significant differences in co-activation index value between the sagittal hip and frontal hip groups (p = 0.022) and sagittal hip and ankle groups (p = 0.016). Low fall risk group was found to have significant differences between the sagittal hip and frontal hip groups (p = 0.038) and frontal hip and knee groups (p = 0.012). Weak and negative correlations were found between COPE velocity and both knee and ankle groups (r = -0.309, -0.323, p = 0.059, 0.050). Negligible and insignificant correlations were found between frontal hip and sagittal hip synergies and COPE velocity ((r = 0.013, -0.068, p = 0.475, 0.367). CONCLUSION: There is insufficient evidence to claim that muscle group activations are different depending on fall risk grouped by COPE velocity. It is not currently possible to correlate COPE velocity to a specific synergy group recruitment. However, data do suggest that sagittal hip and knee strategies are recruited more than ankle and frontal hip strategies during SLST.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)