The Study of How You Walk and Its Impact on Your Medical Care
The study of a person's style of walking or running – referred to as “gait” – can be a very helpful and accurate clinical tool. Clinical gait analysis is the process of measuring a person’s walking/running characteristics and identifying abnormalities to assist in treatment decisions for persons with complex and not easily understood walking problems.
Who Can Benefit from Gait Analysis?
A wide range of patients may be referred for gait analysis testing, including patients with:
- Cerebral palsy
- Musculoskeletal/arthritic/orthopedic conditions
- Neuromuscular disorders such as muscular dystrophies and myopathies
- Spina bifida
- Spinal cord disorders
- Balance disorders from traumatic brain injuries
- Running injuries and prevention to enhance sports training
- Multiple sclerosis
- Peripheral neuropathies or traumatic peripheral nerve injuries
- Antalgic (painful) gait
Modern Technology for Gait Analysis
At Good Shepherd, the Gait Lab includes a Zeno Walkway. At 20 feet long by 4 feet wide, the walkway has 40,080 sensors embedded in it to collect data while a patient is walking, running, jumping and turning. During analysis using the Zeno Walkway, the patient is videotaped, and 3-D Gait Kinematics and Kinetics is utilized to assess the forces that act across the joints (kinetics) and joint motion (kinematics). The measurements gathered quantify the body's movement, force production and muscle activity while walking.
Personalized Treatment through Analysis
Utilized in conjunction with physician observation, the results of each analysis are combined to form a customized, comprehensive picture of the main issues affecting a patient's gait.
It is important to understand that although feet are the contact points, gait can be affected by the mechanics of the spine, pelvis, hips, knees and lower legs. Any weakness of muscles, abnormal tone or misalignment along this chain will affect walking and may need to be treated. Some patients will require surgical intervention, but other recommendations for treatment may include physical therapy, bracing (orthoses), medications and injections or continued monitoring. A repeat gait analysis will help to track changes and monitor progress of treatment.
Learn more about how Good Shepherd physicians and expert clinicians are taking patients Beyond Limits one step at a time with gait anaylsis and locomotor rehabilitation. Request an appointment or contact us online today.