Why Is Gait Analysis So Important For Rehabilitation?
Posted by Jenn F. on Friday, May 17th, 2013
Gait analysis has become an important part of identifying the root cause of physical problems. Sports injury clinics find gait analysis to be a helpful guide in suggesting treatment options. In addition to a basic physical exam, this technology shows doctors precisely how many many aches, pains and injuries can start from the ground up. Patient history and other medical conditions are still an important part of treating an injury, but the computerized process has become an invaluable part of rehabilitation now as well.
What Can Gait Analysis Measure?
A clinical gait analysis measures:
– Patient’s step length
– Stride length
– Cycle time, and
– Joint angle measurements.
Dr. Ross Bogey D.O. explains that gait analysis is an important measure for identifying a “pathological gait.” Patients with walking or running abnormalities may not always feel pain immediately, but eventually signs of weakness, spasticity, joint contractures and loss of motor control will take its toll on the body. Catching these subtle signs early is the best way to intervene and prevent an injury from worsening. During rehabilitation for an injury or illness, it’s especially crucial to monitor the gait for signs of progress or changing habits.
How Is Gait Analysis Helping People With Rehabilitation?
A comprehensive article in European Medical Device Technology magazine describes different applications where gait analysis is beneficial to patients:
– Diabetes: Stride frequency can help doctors make suggestions that will reduce the incidence of plantar ulcers.
– Osteoarthritis: Stride length analysis will show indications of progress — or lack thereof.
– Knee Injury: Assessing changes in gait can help prevent overuse injuries during recovery.
– Elderly: Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in people over 65. Gait analysis can detect skeletal weaknesses early.
– Parkinson’s: Stride length and frequency is predictive in disease progression. Early intervention with drugs or electrical stimulation may help.
– Hydrocephalus: Gait abnormalities are an early clinical sign of the need for surgery or gauging the effectiveness of the surgery.
Also, research published in the Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation found that gait analysis can help distinguish obesity from Prater-Willi Syndrome, a complex multisystem disorder associated with genetic obesity. Scientists concluded that”a tailored rehabilitation program in early childhood of PWS patients could prevent gait pattern changes” — and that could decrease the likelihood of developing scoliosis, knock knees, hip dysplasia, osteoporosis and patellofemoral instability later in life.
The Department of Veteran Affairs has found that “certain gait parameters following a stroke will mirror a patient’s overall functional recovery.” So stroke patients are yet another useful application for this type of measurement.
The Bottom Line:
Here at our NYC clinic, we encourage many different patients to come in for a gait analysis. The procedure only takes about an hour. It’s a very noninvasive test that some people actually enjoy. Bring your usual walking shoes and wear comfortable clothing that does not restrict your movement. We’ll get quick results to put you on the road to recovery in no time.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.