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Motion Analysis: Analyzing and Treating Cerebral Palsy

At 17-years-old, Adam Johnson came to see Dr. David Scher because he was having an increasingly difficult time walking due to problems associated with cerebral palsy.

“Adam, who has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, meaning it involves his legs, had a crouched and twisted gait,” says Dr. Scher. “When we see someone Adam’s age with crouch gait, the concern is that if left untreated, there’s a potential that they could lose the ability to walk.”

To determine if Adam was a candidate for surgery, Dr. Scher recommended that he be evaluated in the Hospital’s Leon Root, MD Motion Analysis Laboratory. “Motion analysis enables us to monitor in a very precise way the movement of all the joints in the lower extremities, when the muscles turn on and off, and the forces acting across the joints during the act of walking,” says Dr. Scher, Co-Medical Director of the Motion Analysis Laboratory. “We can create a very detailed description of a person’s gait, which then guides treatment.”

“Motion analysis has grown into a very sophisticated process,” says Leon Root, MD, who is the founding Clinical Director of the Motion Analysis Laboratory. “It provides us with an objective way of looking at the patient. I can conduct pre- and post-operative studies to determine outcomes and evaluate progress of a patient over time.”

The complex surgery to correct Adam’s gait was performed in two stages, three weeks apart in the fall of 2008. “Adam went back to school in mid-January in a wheelchair,” says his mother, Debbie. “Then he progressed to using a walker and then crutches in time for graduation. Now he’s a lot taller!” Adam is currently a freshman at Rider University majoring in theater.


Learn more about Pediatrics at HSS.

Adam Johnson profile photo