Gait Laboratory

A gait laboratory is a specialised facility equipped with technology that assesses human movement and gait pattern (the way a person walks).

This purpose-built lab includes a set of cameras, force plates and other measurement devices that capture and analyse the movement of various parts of the body during walking. This technology allows us to carry out a gait analysis which is a comprehensive evaluation of the way an individual stands and walks. This analysis can help identify the source of any muscle, nerve or skeletal problems that affect a person’s mobility.

Also known as a video vector gait laboratory or motion analysis laboratory, the gait lab provides precise and detailed measurements of joint angles, muscle activity and ground reaction forces. All of which are important for understanding and improving gait patterns with orthotics.

We use gait labs in a clinical setting to address and treat individuals with a range of movement disorders caused by neurological conditions including:

Individuals recovering from brain injury or stroke can also benefit from a gait lab assessment. As well as children who have undergone Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery.

At the London Orthotic Consultancy, we have state-of-the-art gait labs in three of our clinics. In Kingston-Upon-Thames, Cambridge and in Manchester, which utilises Salford Univeristy’s Gait Laboratory.

Patient walking in a gait analysis laboratory with clinician checking motion analysis data on the computer

Gait analysis assessment at the London Orthotic Consultancy.

Gait analysis technology

In 2023, we installed a brand new Contemplas Markerless Tracking Gaitlab with AMTI force plates and two new high-speed cameras in our Kingston clinic.

This state-of-the-art equipment offers highly accurate 3D kinematic data and operates at a higher frequency than previous models. This allows us to assess faster-moving gait patterns. The vectors projected into the video make use of this 3D data, giving our clinicians more data to utilise.

The markerless tracking technology also allows us to compare pre and post-gait patterns more effectively. This can help us objectively demonstrate improvements over time.

The Gait lab is fundamental to our OSKAR clinic work (Optimal Segmental Kinematic Alignment approach to Rehabilitation (OSKAR) with world-renowned physiotherapist Elaine Owen.

We use the gait lab to help us prescribe a range of orthoses. Most commonly for Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFOs), Knee Ankle Foot Orthoses (KAFOs) and carbon fibre orthoses.

 

In this video, LOC Director Sam Walmsley demonstrates how we use a gait lab analysis during a clinical orthotic assessment. Here we are using the gait lab to assess, prescribe and fine-tune a neuro swing orthosis for patient Quentin.

 

How the gait lab works

A video vector gait laboratory has several components:

  • Force plates, which are highly sensitive measurement devices that calculate the amount of force applied during walking.
  • Sophisticated 3D cameras that synchronise with the force measurement plates set within the floor.

Gait labs like ours measure force in three planes; sagittal, coronal and transverse. The technology creates a vector or graphical representation of this force which is then projected on to the camera footage of the person walking.

The result is that we can accurately see where the vector is located. In particular, its direction and where it is in relation to the joints in the stance leg. Understanding where the force is positioned in relation to the leg is essential for accurate fine-tuning of the lower limb orthotics that we prescribe.

For example, if the vector is positioned too far in front of the knee at late mid-stance, there will be a hyperextension force applied to the knee. The aim of our work within the gait laboratory will be to produce prescriptions that are designed to:

  • protect the bones and joints of the lower leg
  • maintain the range of movement of the hip, knee and ankle
  • return the gait to as normal a pattern as possible.

 

 

Benefits for patients

Gait analysis laboratories can significantly improve the assessment, production and fitting of orthotics in the following ways:

  • Real-time feedback

Getting real-time feedback during walking or other activities can help clinicians and orthotists evaluate the effectiveness of the orthotics prescribed and make adjustments as required immediately.

  • Precise measurements

Incredibly precise measurements of joint angles, muscle activity and ground reaction forces means we can create orthotics that fit and function optimally.

  • Objective data and reporting

Gait laboratory data is objective (unlike human bias) which can help in identifying specific areas of weakness or dysfunction and track progress over time.

  • Individualised treatment plans

No two patients are the same, so when it comes to orthotics, it’s not a case of one-size-fits-all. Gait lab data can help our orthotists create even more bespoke treatment plans for patients, based on their specific gait patterns and their individual goals.

  • Improved outcomes

Detailed information and feedback from gait laboratories mean better and more effective orthotics, leading to better outcomes for patients.

Gait analysis technology used during clinical paediatric orthotic assessment. Shows patient walking with video vectors highlighting the angles created in his walking pattern.

Gait analysis technology used during clinical paediatric orthotic assessment. The overlaid video vectors highlight the force measurements and angles created when walking.

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