Does the Duncan-Ely test predict abnormal activity of the rectus femoris in stroke survivors with a stiff knee gait?


  • Martin J. B. Tenniglo Roessingh Research and Development,PO Box 310, 7500 AH Enschede, The Netherlands.
  • Marc J. Nederhand
  • Judith F. Fleuren
  • Johan S. Rietman
  • Jaap H. Buurke
  • Erik C. Prinsen



stroke, stiff knee gait, rectus femoris, spasticity, Duncan-Ely test, diagnostic


Objective: To determine the diagnostic value of the Duncan-Ely test in predicting abnormal rectus femoris activity during gait in stroke survivors walking with a stiff knee gait.

Design: Cross-sectional diagnostic study.

Subjects: A total of 95 patients with chronic stroke.

Methods: During physical examination, the Duncan-Ely test was performed and scored. Surface electromyography of the rectus femoris was then recorded during dynamic gait. To determine the diagnostic value, the results of the Duncan-Ely test and surface electromyography recordings (gold standard) were compared.

Results: The Duncan-Ely test had a sensitivity of 73%, a specificity of 29%, a positive predictive value of 60%, and a negative predictive value of 42%. The area under the curve was 0.488 ([AQ1] CI 0.355–0.621, p = 0.862), showing that the Duncan-Ely test is not better than random guessing.

Conclusion: The Duncan-Ely test has no predictive value for determining abnormal activity of the rectus femoris during gait. Using this test can lead to incorrect identification of abnormal rectus femoris activity, which might hamper the selection of optimal treatment options. We recommend stopping use of the Duncan-Ely test to predict rectus femoris overactivity during swing, and instead use surface electromyography.


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How to Cite

Tenniglo, M. J. B., Nederhand, M. J., Fleuren, J. F., Rietman, J. S., Buurke, J. H., & Prinsen, E. C. (2022). Does the Duncan-Ely test predict abnormal activity of the rectus femoris in stroke survivors with a stiff knee gait? . Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 54, jrm00247.



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