Motion Labs

Clinical Track

Gait abnormalities are deviations in regular walking patterns, often stemming from disease or injury. These irregularities can lead to pain in the hips, back, neck, feet, knees, and ankles. Gait analysis, commonly referred to as walking or motion analysis, offers an in-depth evaluation of an individual’s posture and walking patterns. This analysis can help:

  • Pinpoint underlying muscle, nerve, or skeletal issues.
  • Identify the root cause of a patient's pain while standing or walking.
  • Help to diagnose bone deformities or skeletal misalignments.
  • Uncover potential muscle or nerve dysfunction.
  • Monitor the progression of diseases like arthritis or muscular dystrophy.

Gait analysis is a non-invasive diagnostic method that plays a pivotal role in detecting specific medical conditions, determining the need for additional testing, and highlighting potential treatment paths.

Types of Gait Analysis

Motion Labs

While we can conduct gait analysis through basic observation, modern technology has revolutionized the process. By analyzing the data provided by several devices, professionals can now evaluate a patient’s gait and parameters such as step length, stride length, cadence, cycle time, and joint angles. In clinical gait analysis, practitioners employ several methods, including:

  • Video-based Analysis: Cameras capture the patient's movement from different angles, enabling a comprehensive view of walking patterns.
  • Force Plates: These measure the forces exerted by the feet during walking, giving insights into weight distribution and balance.
  • Electromyography (EMG): By measuring electrical activity, EMG provides information on muscle activation patterns during gait.
  • Inertial Sensors: These devices, often attached to the patient, capture movement data in real-time, allowing for detailed analysis of various gait aspects.
  • 3D Motion Capture Systems: Using markers placed on the patient, these systems offer a three-dimensional view of gait mechanics.

Understanding Gait Analysis

Purpose: Gait analysis plays a pivotal role for multidisciplinary care teams, especially in pre-surgical planning. It is vital for patients with mobility impairments related to conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophies, brain and spinal cord injuries, or other neuromuscular impairments.

Outcome: Through this analysis, we gain an in-depth understanding of the various factors influencing a patient’s walking and overall movement. This allows us to tailor treatments and interventions to address each patient’s individual needs effectively.

Collaborative Analysis and Treatment Planning

Expert Collaboration: Our motion analysis experts work closely with the patient’s medical team. Together, they thoroughly examine all aspects influencing the patient’s movement patterns. This collective effort informs appropriate surgical procedures or treatments to enhance function and comfort.

Recording gait abnormalities enhances the scope of the physical examination. However, it’s essential to balance this with a thorough consideration of a patient’s history and current medical condition.

What to Expect at Your Appointment

Gait Analysis Overview

Purpose: Gait analysis evaluates how the body moves, typically when walking or running. The goal is to identify irregularities in your motion.


An individual’s gait is a unique function that utilizes the body’s visual, somatosensory, and vestibular systems. Disruptions or issues with these systems, or problems with the associated joints, can result in abnormalities in gait or posture.
Duration: Lasts between 2 to 4 hours.

During the Gait Analysis

  • Placement of Markers & Sensors: Once back in the exam room, the physical therapist will affix small reflective markers and sensors to your body using tape. The cameras capture the movement of these markers, while the sensors detect the activation and relaxation of your muscles.
  • Walking Assessment: You'll be instructed to walk back and forth across the room, covering a distance of about 15-20 feet multiple times. This allows the cameras to record your gait. Should you feel fatigued, the physical therapist will offer you breaks to rest.
  • Conclusion of Analysis: Once the walking assessment is complete, the physical therapist will carefully remove all markers and sensors. You can then change back into your regular attire.
  • Additional Steps: Before concluding the appointment, there might be a request for you to undergo an X-ray. This is particularly true if the doctor desires detailed images of the bones in your feet or legs. During your subsequent visit, your doctor will review and discuss the results of the motion analysis with you.

Appointment Preparation

Physical Exam: A physical therapist will conduct a detailed physical exam tailored to the purpose of the visit.

Motion Capture Analysis: Following the physical exam, lab staff will employ motion capture technology to record and assess your walking patterns. This involves attaching reflective markers or sensors to key points on your body, enabling the team to study the mechanics of your movement.

The insights from your combined physical exam and motion analysis aid in developing a treatment strategy for your unique requirements.

Appointment Preparation Guidelines

  • Arrival Time: Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
  • Clothing & Attire:
    • For Physical Therapy Evaluation:
      • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting athletic-type clothing.
    • For Gait Analysis Evaluation:
      • Avoid applying lotion to your skin on the day of testing (to ensure motion analysis markers adhere properly).
      • Wear short, tight-fitting shorts.
      • Opt for tight-fitting tops, sports bras, or swim tops as suitable.
  • Additional Items to Bring:
    • Any braces or foot orthotics you use.
    • All walking aids, such as crutches, walkers, or canes.
    • Closed-toe walking shoes.
  • Appointment Duration: Expect the entire visit to last between 2 to 3 hours.

Please Review the Instructions Below

Part One: Physical Therapy Exam
The physical therapist will greet you in the waiting room and guide you to the exam room.

Your height and weight will be measured.

During this session, the physical therapist will measure your leg strength, range of motion, alignment, muscle tone, and motor skills. This comprehensive assessment will take approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.

After this portion of the appointment, you’ll have an opportunity for a short break before we proceed.

Part Two: Gait Analysis
After the short break, you’ll be asked to change into tight-fitting shorts to get ready for your gait analysis.

Procedure Details
The physical therapist will ask you to stand still on a specialized mat for 5 seconds. This process measures the pressure distribution under your feet.

Next, while you maintain a standing position, a technician will capture a few photographs.

Medicine of the Highest Order

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