Making strides

March 5, 2008 8:29:15 AM PST
The Gait Study Center is part of the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine in Philadelphia, Pa. It is one of the most advanced human movement laboratories in the world. The Gate Study Center's mission is to promote health and mobility through biomechanical research and education. The research done at the lab is centered on lower extremity structure and function. Doctors can refer patients to be evaluated at the Gait Study Center and then use the data gathered to determine a treatment plan.

GAIT ANALYSIS: Gate analysis involves a thorough investigation of the way one walks and stands. During the analysis, a patient is asked to walk on a special 52 foot-long treadmill at a comfortable speed. While walking, many different measurements are taken by a computer. Walking and standing properly involves a complex chain of reactions. Each of these reactions can be monitored and analyzed. Depending on a patient's complaint, several different types of analysis can be done.

The foot step analysis calculates a persons walking pattern by recognizing pressure points on the ground of the person walks. A computer captures the footprint and the different areas of pressure as they are applied. From these pressure points a walking pattern can be formulated. The force and pressure measurement tracks pressure over a longer distance as a person walks. From this information a two and three-dimensional picture of a persons walking movement can be drawn. The 3-D motional analysis uses infrared technology and special cameras to capture joint angles and movement. Muscle function measurements are also taken to determine how each muscle is functioning. Reviewing slow motion video that is taken during the walk is the last step of the over-all analysis.

DIABETIC FEET: Studying and preventing foot complications in diabetics is one of the main goals of the Gate Study Center. Many diabetics experience loss of feeling in their extremities, particularly in their feet. Once feeling in lost, excessive pressure on the feet can lead to sores on the feet that can eventually lead to amputation. Gate analysis can be used to determine which parts of a patients feet have the most pressure exerted on them, even after feeling is lost. Knowing where these high pressure points are can help a podiatrist determine a prevention plan to keep sores from developing on the patients feet.

OTHER BENEFITS: There are various injuries that Gait analysis can help determine a treatment plan for. Some of them are plantar fasciitis, heel pain, turf toe, ankle sprains, shin splints and knee pain. The Gait analysis can also determine the best type of shoe for athletes.