Measuring Walking: Gait Analysis at HSS

Adapted from the Summer 2009 edition of Pediatric Connection, the HSS Pediatric newsletter

A young female patient having her gait analyzedRecording Walking Patterns

Over the past 50 years, researchers and clinicians have used film, video, and now digital technology to “capture” and record walking patterns to optimize treatment options and choices.

Today, high-speed digital cameras capture data at 100 frames per second (more than three times faster than your average camcorder) and can be set up to 1,000 frames per second for sports activities! This research takes place at the Hospital for Special Surgery Leon Root, MD Motion Analysis Laboratory.

From Movement Pattern to Treatment Plan

With the use of specialized reflective markers placed on the legs, pelvis, and torso, the cameras record the positions of the child as he or she walks across the gait.

In addition to documenting how the body moves, researchers can also record the activity of selected muscles during walking. The simultaneous recording of muscle and movement patterns allows clinicians and researchers to understand what is working well for a patient and what is not.

The end results of the joint angle movement patterns (kinematics) and the muscle activity patterns (kinesiologic electromyography), in combination with a clinical examination and appropriate radiographic studies, allow the medical team to make treatment recommendations.

CP and Gait Analysis

The largest percentage of clinical cases at the HSS Laboratory is children and adults with cerebral palsy, whose surgeons and clinical team are considering surgery or other treatment options. The specific documentation of walking patterns helps dramatically in determining an approach to treatment.

Gait analysis is one of the many specialized tools available to help provide the best care for individuals with altered walking patterns. Sometimes it takes a computer and a team of engineers, physical therapists, and physicians to really know what the “eye” sees when a child walks.

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The Leon Root, M.D. Motion Analysis Laboratory

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