Gait Test – Adventures with Cerebral Palsy
Long story short, my middle daughter was diagnosed with a mild form of Cerebral Palsy about two years ago. The surgeon determined that she needed surgery (tendon releases, hamstring releases & bone staples) to correct the problem and she used the data from x-rays and gait analysis to determine how much to release for each leg.
My little sprite came through the surgery and following physical therapy really well. She never lost her sunshiny outlook even though she went through a tremendous amount of discomfort along the way.
It’s been a year since her surgery and her surgeon wants to take the bone staples out (one at a time, meaning two more surgeries). We went back for a follow up gait test and since it was really fun the first time, I came prepared with my camera to take some pictures of the process. The engineer who has run these tests on Hannah is just a great guy and explains everything about the test while he prepares for the different parts of it.
The first part of her test was simply walking and being video-taped so that there would be a visual record of how she walked. Pretty simple.
The second phase was much more complicated and involved the engineer attaching reflective balls on her feet, joints, back and shoulders. This takes some time because placement is crucial in getting the most accurate information for the cameras. There are eight cameras placed around the room and when activated they send out pulses of light and collect the data from the reflective balls and send it to a computer which processes that data. Pretty cool.
Below are some pictures of Hannah with the sensors:
During our first trip we were able to see a skeletal rendering of how Hannah walked. It was disturbingly accurate. This trip we looked at a bunch of graphs that showed how much her gait (and efficiency in walking) had improved since her initial evaluation. After the testing was completed, the head of the rehabilitation department joined us to look at Hannah’s results. He was immensely pleased and said that everything about her gait was within normal range and that she should be happy with her results. He also gave her a great deal of credit for keeping up on her stretching which helped a lot in her recovery and improving her gait.
Side note: If you have any interest in more information about my family’s experience with CP, please post a comment and I will be happy to provide more information. We went to Sinai Hospital, Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics and I can not say enough good things about the care my daughter received at their facility.
Another side note, charitable donations are way down and many non-profit organizations are not receiving as much in the way of donations because of the economic downturn. The Shriners had 25 Gait Labs around the country but have had to close many down because they are expensive to run and they lacked the money to operate them. There are currently 15 operational gait labs run by The Shriners though that number may drop again if they do not get enough donations to keep them running. If you have an interest in donating to a charity, The Shriners do a lot of good work to help children – completely without charge to families.