Understanding how you move may mean a clearer path to independence. The tools and technology at the Motion Analysis Laboratory capture a more complete picture of your motion. It’s technology to help you put your best foot forward.
The Motion Analysis Laboratory was established in 1994 at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s a high-tech facility where we study human movement. Here, we can analyze both your gait (lower body movement and walking) and your upper body motion.
We have the most experienced clinical gait analysis team of experts in the state of Michigan. Our professionals are committed to the use of clinical gait analysis as part of treatment planning for patients with walking disorders. We use an evidence-based approach to provide recommendations to your treatment team based on your motion analysis data.
Our staff is actively involved in research and education leading to better understanding and treatment of human motion problems. Members are active in the Gait & Clinical Movement Analysis Society (GCMAS), the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AACPDM) and American Society of Biomechanics (ASB).
Team members also are involved in the education of current and future health care professionals through lectures and in-services, and collaborate in research opportunities with physical therapy students and other rehabilitation practitioners.
Motion analysis team members include:
- Mitch Barr, MPT, Physical Therapist: The physical therapist for the Motion Analysis Laboratory and co-author on multiple peer-reviewed medical research articles. Performs and interprets physical assessments and participates in all aspects of patient testing, data interpretation and report writing.
- Amy Lenz, MSME, Gait Lab Engineer: Background in biomedical and mechanical engineering. Lead investigator on multiple, ongoing motion analysis-related studies and co-author of peer-reviewed research articles. Performs most of the Motion Analysis Laboratory’s data processing, technical tasks, quality control and report review.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Below 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 Laboratory.
What is motion analysis and how is it done at the Motion Analysis Laboratory?
Motion analysis is a detailed, computerized evaluation of your movement. Our Motion Analysis Laboratory uses special high-speed cameras, a lot like those used in the creation of your favorite video games and animated movie characters. These cameras let us create a 3-D model of your movement pattern in our computer.
We also use other motion analysis technology, like special force platforms built into the floor, muscle electrodes and foot pressure measurement system. We can then graph your movements and see how they compare to typical movement. Our team of experts use this information to understand how you move and provide treatment recommendations.
Why undergo motion analysis?
Motion analysis 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 changes in your walking or other movement over time
• Improving the function of your brace or artificial limb
How long does motion analysis take?
A motion analysis study can take anywhere from one to four hours. This depends on a number of factors, including the number of tests needing to be performed and your speed and endurance.
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 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 Motion Analysis Laboratory team creates a detailed report of your motion analysis test and their recommendations. This information will be passed along to your doctor within four weeks of your analysis. Talk to the laboratory staff if your doctor needs the results sooner (for example, if surgery is scheduled).
Your doctor will 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 Motion Analysis Laboratory in the future?
You may need to return for another analysis, but there will likely be a few months or even years between studies. The information we collect about your movement at any point in time can be compared to your movement 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 Motion Analysis Laboratory?
Your visit begins with a brief introduction to the team and a brief orientation. You’ll change into appropriate clothing 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 (12 special cameras capture the movement of reflectors placed on your body)
Your visit will include a break with refreshments offered by the Motion Analysis Laboratory. Patients are allowed to watch a movie or use a portable electronic device while the staff places sensors and during other short breaks.
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
• Ankle or leg braces (AFO, KAFO, etc.)
You’ll be asked to wear close-fitting bike/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. The Motion Analysis Laboratory can provide you with the appropriate clothing (You do not need to purchase special clothing for the study.)
Are there educational opportunities available for clinicians and physicians?
Our team members are happy to share their expertise with other interested professionals and students. We do this through formal lectures and informal lab tours.
We’re proud to be affiliated with Grand Valley State University’s physical therapy program, where our staff serve as adjunct instructors to physical therapy graduate students. Our staff members often serve as research project advisors to students focusing on biomechanics and gait analysis.
We regularly host undergraduate interns from a variety of colleges and universities in the region, such as GVSU, the University of Michigan, Hope College and Cornerstone University.
Who can attend my motion analysis study?
Family members are welcome to observe the entire test. If your child is having a test, your presence is encouraged for the duration of the appointment.