Treatments & Research

Motion Pictures

Caleb’s gait was studied at the motion analysis center, and he has made great progress. He can now walk a mile.

Technology at the motion analysis centers improves surgical decisions and outcomes

Shriners Children’s is an internationally recognized leader in clinical motion analysis. Our motion analysis centers complement our healthcare system’s commitment to provide excellent care to children with orthopedic conditions, including those caused by neuromuscular problems, such as cerebral palsy. When we understand how children with these diagnoses move, we can help them move more efficiently, more effortlessly and more confidently. 

In the motion analysis centers, high-speed cameras, reflective markers, force platforms and muscle sensors work together to record and measure how a child is moving.

This technology provides a way to collect detailed data that offers a complete picture of how a patient’s muscles, joints and bones are interacting. This gives us the understanding often needed to provide the best treatment recommendations for our patients. Additionally, the availability of pre- and post-operative data helps refine and adjust surgical procedures to achieve even better outcomes in the future. 

Shriners Children’s has 14 motion analysis centers in the healthcare system. The centers are primarily used for gait (walking pattern) analysis to help guide surgical decisions and outcomes. 

Caleb’s movements are studied and recorded as three-dimensional pictures.

A definitive improvement

Caleb, a third-grader with cerebral palsy and a patient of Shriners Children’s Chicago, has benefited from the information provided by the hospital’s motion analysis center. 

The results provide a three-dimensional picture of how he moves, according to Caleb’s orthopedic surgeon, Haluk Altiok, M.D. “It is certainly possible that we can see and manage patients with cerebral palsy, but motion analysis takes it to a different level,” he said. The data can make a great difference in understanding both the effects of a condition on a child’s walking pattern and the improvement that has been accomplished. 

“I think the gait lab was eye-opening,” said Caleb’s mother, Kenia. “We got to see how his body was moving. They showed us a video of him before, right around age 2, to now. When you live with this, you don’t realize how far he’s come. Literally all he did was toe-walk. But then to see it and be reminded of it …” 

Caleb can now walk a mile. He is also earning belts in karate. The 8-year-old loves reading and hopes to work in TV or the movies one day. 

Payton’s work in the motion analysis center has helped lead to successful results.

Precise information for smarter decisions

Payton is a 15-year-old high school sophomore who cheers competitively, plays soccer and serves on her school’s student council. Payton was born with cerebral palsy, but she refuses to let her condition hold her back. 

When Payton was a year old, her mom, Erika, noticed Payton’s walking didn’t seem quite right. She was referred to Shriners Children’s Northern California and was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy. 

When Payton was 7, she had her first study in the motion analysis center. 

“Three-dimensional motion analysis helps us see movement that would otherwise be impossible in a quick appointment in the clinic,” said Vedant Kulkarni, M.D., attending pediatric orthopedic surgeon and director of the pediatric orthopedic fellowship program at the hospital. “The results of these studies allow us to have a level of precision in our understanding and decision-making that each child deserves. Payton’s first study showed us that a tendon lengthening surgery for her right ankle and knee would substantially improve her walking.” 

The surgery went well, and Payton worked hard during physical therapy. Her surgery was ultimately so successful that she now participates in multiple sports, including competitive cheerleading. She travels across the country for competitions, and her team has won a national championship. 

“I can run, tumble, flip and do everything my teammates can do,” said Payton. 

Return to sports testing

Return to sports testing is a new and exciting use of the motion analysis centers. 

Following a sports-related injury, it can be difficult to determine when a patient may be ready to return to full participation. Through return to sports testing in the motion analysis center, Shriners Children’s Erie has objectified clinical decision-making regarding appropriate timeframes for returning to sports safely. “It is imperative that we use evidence-based practice and clinical decision-making, along with state-of-the-art tools that are available, such as three-dimensional motion capture,” said Mary K.V. Eighmy, PT, D.P.T, OCS. “This will help ensure that patients are safely progressed back to sports, as dictated by their progression of function and strength.” 

Completing return to sports testing in the motion analysis center includes applying retroreflective markers to the patient. The software then creates a digital model to analyze sport-specific movements, such as running, cutting, jumping and landing. From here, physicians and physical therapists can create an individualized treatment plan that addresses functional deficits in strength, motion and biomechanics, until the patient is cleared to return to sports. 

Olivia’s hard work has helped her overcome sports injuries.

Olivia, a highly motivated athlete and 14-year-old patient at Shriners Children’s Erie, had numerous sports injuries, which led to instability of her knee. After the most recent injury, emergency room staff at a local hospital suggested that her family follow up with Shriners Children’s Erie. There, Michael McClincy, M.D., performed ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction surgery, and Olivia has been undergoing physical therapy to regain strength and mobility. “The care we have received at Shriners Children’s has been wonderful,” said her mom, Emily. “It’s so helpful to have her doctor and physical therapist in the same location, working together.” 

Olivia recently participated in return to sports testing in the motion analysis center. “It’s really cool to see what the motion capture can do and how it can measure things,” Emily said. “It shows what was good and what we still need to work on.” Although Olivia is not cleared to return to sports quite yet, she will continue to work hard to get there. She is an avid athlete and looks forward to participating in several sports throughout her high school career. “I feel very comfortable knowing that she will be fully healed before going back to her activities, thanks to Shriners Children’s and the motion analysis center,” said Emily. 

Quality of our motion analysis centers

Shriners Children’s has nine motion analysis centers accredited by the Commission for Motion Laboratory Accreditation – representing 41% of the accredited centers in the U.S. 

By the end of 2022, we hope to have all 14 of our centers accredited, which would make Shriners Children’s represent 51% of all nationwide accredited labs. This is a prestigious distinction, and will attract patients and encourage other providers to collaborate with us. “Accreditation ensures the highest quality of care and sets standards for research,” said Ross Chafetz, PT, Ph.D., D.P.T., MPH, corporate director of the motion analysis centers for Shriners Children’s.