A Serious Gait Problem: Pancompartmental Compromise of the Lower Leg.

“Pan” is a prefix (combining form) meaning all, entire, everything, everywhere 

This was a case we discussed during a more recent podcast, perhaps pod 63 or 64? This doctor had fallen asleep with the left leg dangling over the side of his bed. The issue was that the leg not only dangled over the mattress, but also over a wooded side bed frame, so there was a firm upward compression into the posterior/popliteal compartment. He awoke the next day with complete loss of function of the foot and ankle.  This video is 8 weeks after the compressive event and there has been a significant improvement in function, but there are still some deficits here.  Can you see them ?  We will show you come other video clips in a future blog post discussing some other components of his gait but lets get you familiar with the case today.

What you should see here:

1- Left heel shows a staggered drop. He cannot hold heel rise because of compromise to the posterior compartment strength (gastrocsoleus complex). This was a drastic improvement from his complete inability to heel rise at all at on his initial visit. You can easily see the fatiguability of the calf after just a few steps. 

2- There is a pathetic attempt at heel walking; gross function testing of the anterior compartment. What appears to be an attempt at just right heel walking is actually an attempt to do it on both sides, there is just still so much weakness in the left anterior compartment that you cannot even see his attempts to dorsiflex the foot/ankle or toes. But, what we do not show here is that he has non-weight bearing dorsiflexion now, which was completely absent for the first 6 weeks.  

Neuronal regeneration is possible. It takes time.  Depending on your referenced source the numbers vary. But in his case, in 8 weeks there is progressive improvements and he can say for certain that in the last 2 weeks they are exponential.  The time to restoration of neuronal function is said to be directly proportional to the measurable length of nerve damage.  

What is interesting in this case, is that there is anterior and posterior compartment neurologic compromise. This was a case of vascular and mechanical compression to the neurovascular bundle at the popliteal/knee level. 

Wallerian degeneration is a process that results when a nerve is severely damaged. The axon of the nerve which is separated from the neuron cell body degenerates distal to the injury. The part of the axon distal to the injury begins its degeneration within 24-36 hours of the lesioning event and is followed by myelin sheath degradation. Somewhere around 4 days from the time of the injury, the distal end of the portion of the nerve fiber proximal to the lesion begins sprouting in an attempt to regrow and fill the gap along the length of axonal damage. Sources vary, but many seem to indicate a 1mm per day reinnervation. 

More on this case next time, but the stage has been set.

Shawn and Ivo

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