Ahead of Print: Effect of Surgery on Gait and Sensory Motor Performance in Patients With Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy

BACKGROUND: Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a common disease of aging that leads to gait instability resulting from loss of leg sensory and motor functions. The results of surgical intervention have been studied using a variety of methods, but no test has been reported that objectively measures integrative leg motor sensory functions in CSM patients.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the feasibility of using a novel single leg squat (SLS) test to measure integrative motor sensory functions in patients with CSM before and after surgery.

METHODS: Fifteen patients with CSM were enrolled in this prospective study. Clinical data and scores from standard outcomes questionnaires were obtained before and after surgery. Patients also participated in experimental test protocols consisting of standard kinematic gait testing, the Purdue pegboard test, and the novel SLS test.

RESULTS: The SLS test protocol was well tolerated by CSM patients and generated objective performance data over short test periods. In patients who participated in postoperative testing, the group measures of mean SLS errors decreased following surgery. Gait velocity measures followed a similar pattern of group improvement postoperatively. Practical barriers to implementing this extensive battery of tests resulted in subject attrition over time. Compared with kinematic gait testing, the SLS protocol required less space and could be effectively implemented more efficiently.

CONCLUSIONS: The SLS test provides a practical means of obtaining objective measures of leg motor sensory functions in patients with CSM. Additional testing with a larger cohort of patients is required to use SLS data to rigorously examine group treatment effects.

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