Gait and motion analysis is done by a team of specialists in a gait lab that is equipped with advanced video, motion capture and other monitoring equipment. A typical visit lasts about three hours and involves several steps.
First, your child walks across the room while being videotaped from two angles. This visual record helps providers understand walking difficulties and provides a reference point for measuring treatment outcomes.
A physical therapist assesses your child’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 measure the effectiveness of treatment.
Equipment and Motion Analysis
Before motion capture and muscle monitoring begin, a physical therapist applies small reflective balls and sensors to your child’s body. Special cameras track the movement of the reflectors as your child walks through the gait lab—recording when muscles are active and at rest. Instruments in the floor measure the force produced by the muscles at the joints as your child walks.
Plantar Pressure Testing
Your child walks across a special mat that senses the pattern and distribution of pressure under the feet. This data helps to highlight patterns, forces, and pressures that cameras can’t capture. See an example image from plantar pressure testing.
Oxygen Consumption Test
Your child wears a mask that covers the nose and mouth to help measure how much energy is required to walk. While wearing the mask to measure the amount of oxygen inhaled and carbon dioxide exhaled, your child first sits for a rest period of 10 minutes, and then walks for a period of six minutes.
For the walking portion, a technician or engineer pushes a cart with the monitoring equipment behind your child.
Analyzing the Data
Once your child has completed the activities of the gait and motion analysis, an engineer or technician processes the data and creates a series of graphs showing movements, muscle activity, force production and energy use—see example graphs. A physical therapist analyzes this information and then discusses it with an orthopedic surgeon.
Next, the physical therapist and surgeon generate a list of problems and potential treatments—and share the information with your specialty physician. Your family meets with your specialty physician (usually within four weeks of the analysis) to discuss the results.
Get a glimpse into how motion analysis guides clinical decision-making and is incorporated into patient care.
We reviewed outcomes for patients who were evaluated in the James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis during a 39-month period, and our assessment produced the following insights:
- Gait analysis is a valuable tool for diagnosis and treatment planning.
- Data-guided diagnoses and treatment planning resulted in better outcomes for patients.
- Patients and their families reported that treatment was worth any challenges they encountered and their expectations were met.
After a period of time your child might be asked to come back for follow-up testing. Repeated analyses can help determine whether your child has changed after treatment or with time.