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Motion analysis center

Motion analysis center

The motion analysis center (MAC) serves to objectively evaluate human motions, in particular walking. As the goal of many orthopaedic, rehabilitation and medical treatments is to improve patient's mobility, a MAC is a key component of advanced pediatric orthopaedic clinical care and research.

The motion analysis center located at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Canada is a new service and research tool. The MAC, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, is an essential tool to optimize physical assessments performed at the hospital. The need for such analyses can arise at diagnosis or during follow-up of a patient after an intervention, in order to document the effect of a treatment. Without a MAC, caregivers can assess gait only subjectively. The MAC brings significant improvements to the quality of clinical care and education at the Canada Shriners Hospital, and plays a central role in clinical research projects.

The MAC at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Canada is initially expected to evaluate 100 to 150 children per year for full analysis, as well as for partial analysis evaluations.

Cutting-edge technology to facilitate objective clinical decision making

Walking is a complex motor skill. Children and adolescents with walking difficulties often have different ways of coordinating their movements and adapting to their walking limitations. Clinical motion analysis at the Canada Shriners Hospital is used to help understand complex neuromuscular, acquired or congenital disorders that affect gait. It also allows a better understanding of how children use their walking aids/wheelchair, and how we can improve their physical ability in order to reduce pain or discomfort.

The motion analysis center at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Canada is one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the country. At the MAC, patients’ movement patterns are carefully measured and analyzed with advanced technology and expertise. Using this technology, we can measure and describe the walking patterns of children and adolescents, ages 5 to 21, with complex motion problems resulting from:

  • Leg and foot deformities (cavus, planus, club feet)
  • Length discrepancy or bony misalignment
  • Orthopaedic, neurologic and genetic disorders (osteogenesis imperfecta)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spina bifida

Motion analysis is completed with clinical testing that enables surgeons to have a detailed overview of physical deficiencies that cause movement disorders. This usually allows them to perform surgical correction of all problems in a single surgical session. It also enables an assessment of the effectiveness of a surgical or physical therapy intervention. Ultimately, the goal is to improve quality of life for children.

A multidisciplinary team of experts

Results of the testing are reviewed by a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including orthopaedic surgeons, researchers, a kinesiologist, a physical therapist and a computer technician.

State-of-the-art technology

  • Ten specialized cameras capture the movements of markers attached to the feet, legs and trunk.
  • Electromyograms placed on the skin measure the muscular electrical activity.
  • Platforms recessed into the floor measure forces acting on the body as the patient walks.
  • A special carpet measures the pressure under the plantar surface of the foot during walking.
  • High definition video cameras record images of how the patient is walking.
  • A respiratory gas (oxygen and carbon dioxide) measurement system estimates the energy cost of walking and also measures cardiopulmonary capacities.


Shriners Motion Analysis Network (SMACnet) is a group of physicians, therapists, engineers, kinesiologists and technicians from 14 Shriners Hospitals’ MACs, who work together with the goal of enhancing the clinical, research and educational activities in MACs to ultimately benefit children with motion disorders. Each MAC consists of quantitative assessment tools and specialists on the leading edge of assessing human movement to provide assistance in treatment decision-making and measuring the outcomes of orthopaedic interventions. Each MAC sees hundreds of patients per year and each patient assessment includes the collection, organization and storage of large volumes of data.

All 14 MACs in the Shriners Hospitals for Children health care system are working to establish a consolidated patient database, of which the Canada Shriners Hospital is an active participant. This will be one of the largest MAC patient databases in the world, from which all Shriners Hospitals for Children will be able to derive data to assist patients and clinicians, to improve data quality and quantity, as well as to facilitate information sharing.