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Motion analysis center

Motion analysis center

The high-tech movement studies conducted in the motion analysis center (MAC) are integral to the complex, comprehensive care provided by Shriners Hospitals for Children — Erie. Motion disorders are often too complex to analyze by simply watching a child move, and video does not provide completely accurate information. Using technology similar to what is used by the computer game and movie industries, the MAC is able to create a computer model of a child’s movement problem(s) to better understand the associated mechanics, forces and muscle activity for the purpose of improved individual treatment planning.

Technology and testing

The type of equipment used during each analysis session depends on the clinical question from the referring physician. Using near infrared high-tech digital cameras to track reflective markers placed anatomically on the child, electromyography, and specialized pressure mat and force plates combined with a thorough physical therapy evaluation, the motion analysis team can:

  • Measure how a child moves in three-dimension (3-D)
  • Measure how forces occur through a child’s joints while walking or running
  • Calculate how fast a child walks, the number of steps taken per minute, the length of steps, and the symmetry of the right compared to the left steps, and more
  • Measure the magnitude and progression of foot pressures during the walking or running cycle
  • Record how muscles work during an activity and compare all of this information to what is expected with typical motion

Who is tested?

Children with neurological disorders, limb length differences or even sport-related injuries that limit a child’s function may come to the MAC so their doctors can better understand the biomechanics behind the motion disorder. The results provided by the center are used to optimize surgical, medical and therapy plans, as well as orthotic interventions (bracing). Change in motion over time is very difficult for parents to see because they are with the child every day and often don’t realize subtle changes that may be occurring. MAC data provides a baseline from which we can reliably compare to future motion test results and determine whether a child is staying the same, improving, or declining to help adjust treatment plans if needed.

Children are sometimes analyzed in the center as part of a research study. The technology provides an accuracy of motion measurement that is highly reliable, repeatable and validated. This research often allows our experts to better understand normal motion, thus allowing improved understanding of atypical motion. Improved understanding ultimately improves treatment and outcomes on a larger scale.