Technology Can Be a Powerful Tool in Assessing Children with Mobility Issues
Wed, 12/01/2010 - 10:33am | Erin Sheeder
Children with mobility issues present unique challenges in rehabilitation, and technology can help to ensure that these children get the right treatment at the right time.
Often, children with issues such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, seizure disorders, developmental delays and brain tumors, can have mobility issues that make it difficult for them to get around. This can seriously impact the quality of their lives.
Thankfully, physical therapy and rehabilitation can often help these children to manage their conditions and to improve their mobility.
The first step in developing a treatment plan is to assess the children and to pinpoint their particular mobility issues. That means assessing their range of motion, strength, balance and gait.
The assessment process is vital, but with many children, especially those with developmental issues, the assessment process can be a challenge. Often, physical therapists must use unique methods, including games and play, to ensure that we get the information we need to provide the right treatment.
Technology can also help.
Video can be a powerful tool in assessing children with mobility issues. Having a video record of a child’s gait when they enter therapy is extremely useful later on because it provides a means of comparison. For example, comparing gait before and after braces are prescribed can show us if there is improvement and the degree of improvement. Video is helpful looking at a young patient’s progress over time and is something that most clinics can afford to add to their practices.
Computerized assessment devices for gait and balance can also provide a wealth of information when evaluating children with mobility issues. Electronic walkway systems, for example, measure spatial and temporal gait parameters. As the patient walks across the walkway, the system captures the geometry and the relative arrangement of each step. This gives concrete information regarding step and stride lengths, pressure mapping of each footprint, foot progression angles and speed parameters.
These computerized balance devices may also help clinicians assess sensory organization, motor control and limits of stability. By having a child stand on a computerized platform in a variety of manners, a physical therapist may be able to determine the cause of gait dysfunction, which is invaluable information when developing a comprehensive treatment plan to address each child’s needs and goals.
Watch this blog for more information on how technology can help physical therapists treat children with mobility issues.