Gait Analysis via the Motion Analysis Center at Mary Free BedBelow are some of the questions we hear most often from patients who want to learn more about gait analysis and other services available through Mary Free Bed’s Motion Analysis Center.

What is motion analysis and how is it done at the Motion Analysis Center (MAC)?

Motion analysis is a detailed, computerized evaluation of your movement. Our Motion Analysis Center (or MAC, as we like to call it) uses special high-speed cameras, a lot like those used in your kids’ favorite video games or to animate movie characters. These cameras let us create a 3-D model of your movement pattern in our computer.

We also use other motion analysis tech, like special force scales built into the floor, muscle electrodes and pressure sensors. We can then graph your movements and see how they compare to normal movement. Our team of experts use this information to understand how you move.

Why undergo motion analysis?

Motion analysis at the Motion Analysis Center gives your treatment team better information about how you move. It offers a more comprehensive look than your rehabilitation specialists can get by observing you in an office or clinic setting. The information can be used in:

• Treatment planning.
• Carefully evaluating the effect of various treatments. This may include surgery, medication, therapy, bracing or assistive devices.
• Monitoring change in your movement ability over time.

How long does motion analysis take?

A motion analysis test can take anywhere from 2.5 to 4 hours. This depends on your endurance and other testing factors. If your child is having a test, your presence is requested in the waiting area or by your child’s side.

Does motion analysis hurt?

There shouldn’t be any pain during your motion analysis. Patients tell us that the most uncomfortable part is when we remove the tape that holds the markers and motion sensors on your skin. If you get tired during the study, you can take a break at any time.

What happens with the information from my motion analysis?

The team of experts at the MAC will sit down together to review the information they gathered from your test. This happens within a week or two of the test. The MAC team creates a detailed report of your motion analysis test and their recommendations. This information will be passed along to your doctor within 4 weeks of your analysis. Talk to the MAC staff if your doctor needs the results sooner (for example, if surgery is scheduled).

Your doctor will likely review the motion analysis report with you at your next visit. You and your doctor will decide how to use the information as part of your rehabilitation.

Will I need to come back to the MAC in the future?

You may need to return for another analysis, but there’d likely be a few months or even years between studies. The information we collect about your movements at any point in time can be compared to your movements at a different time. This is very helpful in the event there’s been a major change or treatment.

What happens during my visit to the MAC?

Your visit begins with a brief introduction to the team and an orientation. You’ll be asked to change into clothes you’ve brought from home (see next section), and then you’ll be directed in several activities such as:

• Videotaping of your walking and other movements
• Foot print analysis
• Physical examination to get careful measurements of your body
• Electromyography (EMG) to record what your muscles do as you move
• Video motion capture to create a 3-D model of your movement (10 special cameras capture the movement of reflectors placed on your body)

Your visit will include a break with a snack and juice offered by the MAC. You’re welcome to take a break at any point of the test if you feel tired.

What should I bring for my motion analysis?

If you’ll be doing a walking test, you’ll be asked to bring any assistive devices or braces you use on a daily basis. These include

• Walker
• Cane
• Crutches
• Ankle or leg braces (AFO, KAFO, etc.)

Wear comfortable but fitted clothes that will let our motion analysis cameras get a clear view of your legs and the reflectors taped on them. We recommend close-fitting bike or exercise shorts, as these allow some modesty, but don’t interfere with our technological equipment. Female patients should wear a swimsuit top or sports bra so that we can access your sternum (breast bone), spine and lower torso. Male patients can go without a shirt.

Are there educational opportunities available for clinicians and physicians at the MAC?

MAC team members are happy to share their expertise with other medical and rehabilitation providers. We offer in-service lectures, mailings and in-lab presentations for physicians and other clinicians in Grand Rapids, West Michigan and beyond. In-service topics include the role of computerized gait analysis on clinical decisions, cost vs. benefit of biomechanical gait analysis and others.

We’re proud to be affiliated with Grand Valley State University’s physical therapy program, where MAC staff serve as adjunct instructors to physical therapy graduate students. MAC staff members often serve as research project advisors to students focusing on biomechanics and gate analysis. A portion of the start-up funding for the Motion Analysis Center was received from the Steelcase Foundation with help from the Development Office at Grand Valley State University.

The MAC regularly hosts undergraduate interns from a variety of colleges and universities in the region, such as GVSU, the University of Michigan, Hope College and Cornerstone University.