Understanding gait

The gait laboratory is helping researchers to understand the structure and function of the musculoskeletal system

The gait laboratory is a state-of-the-art facility that helps researchers to understand the structure and function of the musculoskeletal system, and the causes of musculoskeletal injuries and disease.

The facility features a range of instruments including a motion analysis system, gait walkway, balance master, dynamometer, 3D foot scanner and plantar pressure analysis equipment.

“The instruments enable us to measure and monitor everything from a person’s balance and the way they walk, through to muscle strength and activity,” explains Professor Hylton Menz. “In turn, we can assess a number of factors including fall and injury risk, and the effectiveness of interventions.”

Each instrument brings different capabilities to the gait laboratory.

“We use the motion analysis system to collect information about how people walk, run and dance,” says Menz. “We place markers covered in reflective tape at different locations of the body. The participant’s movement is then detected by high-speed cameras in real time.”

Motion analysis data informs research on injury prevention, how people respond after lower limb surgery, or recover after an injury.

The Emed plantar pressure system accurately maps load distribution under a foot during walking, in real time. “This kind of equipment allows us to assess and treat pressure-related foot conditions, including osteoarthritis,” says Menz.

Meanwhile, the 3D foot scanner uses red lasers and specialised cameras to create a precise, high-resolution 3D model of a foot, enabling informed design of footwear and orthoses.

PhD candidate, Jamie Allan, uses the 3D foot scanner in his research. “By using this technology, in combination with sophisticated shape analysis techniques, we can improve our understanding of foot shape and function,” he says.

Learn more about motion analysis:

Find out more about the Department of Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Prosthetics and Orthotics on the website and LinkedIn.