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Gait and Motion Analysis
Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare operates one of the world’s busiest and most respected clinical gait and motion analysis centers. In fact, our James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis is known worldwide for expertise in diagnosing and planning treatments for people with walking and movement disorders.
View our other videos from this series.
Through advanced technology and provider expertise, gait and motion analysis measures movement, muscle activity, force production and oxygen consumption to create a clear picture of a patient’s challenges and needs. Providers use the data to plan treatments and measure outcomes in children, teens and adults with a wide variety of conditions.
Why Choose Gillette?
- We offer one of the world’s busiest clinical gait and motion analysis centers.
- The center is pending accreditation from the Commission for Motion Analysis Accreditation
- Our providers are experts in the unique needs of children, teens and adults who have disabilities and complex conditions.
- We provide facilities and technology designed specifically for your needs.
- Our commitment to performing research and measuring outcomes promotes the highest standards of care.
- We provide gait and motion analysis services as part of a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan.
Definition of Gait and Motion Analysis
Using innovative computer technology, motion analysis captures movements, muscle activity and forces that the eye can’t see. Although some people have similar walking patterns, the way their muscles and joints work together can vary widely. Motion analysis helps care teams accurately identify problems specific to each patient.
Information from motion analysis—together with imaging scans, the patient’s medical history and the results of other evaluations—helps a patient’s care team recommend the best treatments for abnormal movement.
At Gillette’s James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis, our team includes technicians, engineers, physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons who are experts in the study of human movement. Using advanced computer technology, we analyze how muscles, joints and nerves work together to make movement possible.
Candidates for Gait and Motion Analysis
Motion analysis measures movement patterns in people who have complex conditions involving the muscles, joints, nerves and bones. We specialize in evaluating children, teens and adults who have complex conditions and injuries.
We often see people who have:
- Brain injury and related neurotrauma
- Cerebral palsy
- Complex movement disorders
- Conditions that cause toe-walking
- Hand and upper extremity movement problems
- Limb-length discrepancy and limb differences
- Misaligned bones and foot abnormalities
- Spina bifida
- Other neurological or orthopedic conditions
Motion Analysis for Upper Extremities
Although health-care professionals use motion analysis primarily to understand walking problems, the technology also can document movement and muscle activity of the arms and hands. Providers use the data to recommend treatments that improve abilities.
Motion Analysis for Adults
Because Gillette provides lifelong care for many conditions, we also conduct motion analysis on teens and adults. Some are having motion analysis for the first time because their conditions have begun causing pain and stiffness with age. Others have experienced difficulties since childhood and need ongoing evaluations and treatment. All of our patients receive health care tailored to their individual needs.
What to Expect During Gait and Motion Analysis
A physical therapist and a technician or engineer conduct motion analysis tests as a team in a room equipped with advanced video, motion capture, and other monitoring equipment. A typical visit takes 2.5 to three hours and involves several steps.
First, patients walk across the room while being videotaped from two angles. This visual record helps providers understand a patient’s walking difficulties and provides a reference point for measuring treatment outcomes.
A physical therapist assesses every patient’s strength, range of motion, bony alignment, levels of spasticity, and motor control. These measurements provide important information when analyzing the gait data in order to plan treatments and help providers understand the effectiveness of treatment.
Equipment and Motion Analysis
Before motion capture and muscle monitoring can begin, a physical therapists applies small reflective balls and sensors to the patient’s body. Special cameras track the movement of the reflectors as the patient walks through the lab, and the sensors record when muscles are active and at rest. Instrumentation built into the floor measures the forces produced by the muscles at the joints as the patient walks across them.
Plantar Pressure Testing
Patients will also walk across a mat that senses the pattern and distribution of pressure under the feet. This data helps providers understand patterns, forces, and pressures that cameras can’t capture.
Oxygen Consumption Test
Another part of the test in the motion lab is the measurement of energy expenditure. This requires the patient to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth. While wearing the mask, the patient will sit for a rest period of 10 minutes, and then walk for a period of 6 minutes.
A cart with the monitoring equipment is pushed by a technician or engineer behind the child. The amount of oxygen inhaled and carbon dioxide exhaled is measured. This test helps providers understand how much energy is required to walk.
Analyzing the Data
An engineer/tech processes the data that is collected during gait analysis and creates a series of graphs showing the patient’s movements, muscle activity, force production and energy use. This information is analyzed by the physical therapist and is then discussed/interpreted with an orthopedic surgeon.
After reviewing the data, the therapist and the surgeon generate a list of problems and potential treatments for those problems. They provide the information to the patient’s specialty physician, who will discuss it with the patient and family during their next visit. Results are typically available within 3-4 weeks of testing.
After treatment or a period of time, we often bring patients back for follow-up testing. Repeated analyses help us determine whether patients have changed after treatment or with time. We can then decide what additional treatments—if any—would be beneficial.
Preparing for Your Visit
Gait and motion analysis testing typically takes 2.5 to 3 hours to complete, with results available to your physician in 3-4 weeks.
What to Bring With You
- Loose fitting shorts with an elastic waist. (Girls should bring along tank tops.)
- Braces and walking aids (such as crutches, walkers or canes), if applicable
- Shoes used for walking with and without braces
- Camera (optional)
- Familiar toys or books (optional)
- Completed functional assessment questionnaire, if you haven’t mailed it in advance (see below)
- Completed pediatric or adolescent outcomes questionnaire, if you haven’t mailed it in advance (see below)
Functional Assessment Questionnaires
Please return by mail prior to your appointment date if possible.
- English questionnaire for first-time visitors (PDF)
- English questionnaire for returning patients (PDF)
- Spanish questionnaire for first-time visitors (PDF)
- Spanish questionnaire for returning patients (PDF)
Pediatric/Adolescent Outcomes Questionnaires
Please return by mail prior to your appointment date if possible.
- English questionnaire for patients ages 2 - 10 (PDF)
- English questionnaire for patients ages 11 - 18 (PDF)
- Spanish questionnaire for patients ages 2 - 10 (PDF)
- Spanish questionnaire for patients ages 11 - 18 (PDF)
Mail completed forms to:
Center for Gait and Motion Analysis – Pamela Ciresi
Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare
200 University Ave E
Saint Paul MN 55101-2507
Consenting to Observation
Gillette is a teaching facility, and we often have requests from visitors to observe gait analysis testing. We always ask permission before any visitors are allowed to be present during gait analysis testing. If you know in advance that you or your child would not be comfortable with observers, please let us know so that we can plan visitors for different times.
Arrival and Check-In
Please arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment. Check in at the fourth floor registration desk, where our patient services representatives will direct you to the James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis. Be sure to ask to get your ramp ticket stamped for reduced parking.
Gait and motion analysis involves collaboration among specialists in many disciplines. Some of the specialties most often involved in testing and referrals include:
In addition, gait and motion analysis is often one component of a comprehensive spasticity evaluation conducted by a team of experts.
Locations of Service
See all of Gillette’s hospital and clinic locations.
Publications and Resources
This report about gait and motion analysis treatment planning and outcomes provides a glimpse into how motion analysis guides clinical decision-making and is incorporated into patient care.