Digital Public Defence: Merete Aarsland Fosdahl

MSc Merete Aarsland Fosdahl at Institute of Health and Society will be defending the thesis “Hamstring muscle length in ambulant children with spastic bilateral cerebral palsy - Development and physiotherapy treatment” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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Photo: Ine Eriksen, UiO

The public defence will be held as a video conference over Zoom.

The defence will follow regular procedure as far as possible, hence it will be open to the public and the audience can ask ex auditorio questions when invited to do so.

Click here to participate in the public defence

Download Zoom here


Digital Trial Lecture – time and place

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Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Professor Gunnar Hägglund, Lund University
  • Second opponent: Researcher Siri Merete Brændvik, NTNU
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Jan Erik Madsen, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Professor II Magne Røkkum, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Professor II Inger Holm, University of Oslo


Children with spastic bilateral cerebral palsy (CP) often develop muscle contractures and it appears to evolve by functional level and age. These children often have a complexity of of impairments affecting their gait. Hamstring muscle shortening is one of several impairments often developing during childhood. Physiotherapy is important to maintain and improve function in these children

The aims of this thesis were to study the development of hamstring muscle length (measured by the popliteal angle) and spasticity during childhood and to evaluate whether a specific muscle stretching and strengthening program had any positive effect on the popliteal angle, muscle strength and gait function.

The thesis includes a longitudinal register-based cohort study including 419 ambulant children with CP followed throughout childhood (2193 tests), and a randomized controlled trial including 34 ambulant children (7-15 years). The children were randomized to a 16-weeks stretching and strengthening program or “care as usual”.

The result from the register –based study showed that the hamstring muscle shortened and the spasticity scores were low throughout childhood independent of gait function level.


The results from the 16-weeks stretching and strength training program showed small, but statistically insignificant effects on the popliteal angle and lower limb muscle strength in favor of the intervention group and no effect on gait function.

The present findings indicate that clinicians should pay attention to maintaining the length of the hamstring from an early age, independent of gait function level. The results from the intervention study indicate that a combination of muscle stretching and strength training might be useful.

Additional information

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Published Aug. 20, 2020 3:26 PM - Last modified Sep. 4, 2020 1:27 PM