Gait Analysis Top Questions Answered


1. Why would my child need gait analysis? 

The primary purpose of gait analysis is to provide a detailed understanding of a patient’s movement patterns so that more informed treatment decisions can be made. Gait analysis provides documentation of movement patterns such as joint angles and muscle activity during walking that cannot be determined through visual analysis alone. When this information is used in conjunction with a comprehensive clinical exam the best understanding of movement pathology is possible. Gait analysis is appropriate for a variety of complex conditions that involve impairments to the muscles, joints, nerves and bones that impact gait function.   

2. What information will gait analysis tell my child's doctor? 

Gait analysis will provide a detailed description of your child’s walking including joint angles and loads, muscle activity and details about speed and step lengths. Gait analysis findings can be used to better understand walking pathology therefore can be used to recommend interventions, including braces, medication, physical therapy, and surgery that are focused on improving walking. It is important to measure and understand what the doctor is proposing to treat to make the best treatment decision. Gait analysis can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments which is also a very important step. 

3. I'm a teen or adult and I've never had gait analysis, is it still something I should consider? 

Yes, teenagers and adults can have gait analysis. If you are concerned about changes in how you walk or if you’re not able to participate in usual activities, speak with your physician about whether gait analysis is a good option. 

4. If my child is scheduled to have gait analysis, what are the pre-appointment considerations? 

When scheduling your appointment, your doctor’s office will let you know what to wear to the appointment, how long the appointment will take (it’s usually several hours), and who will be involved in the testing. If you are wearing braces or use an ambulatory aid, it is important to bring these to the gait analysis appointment.  

5. If my child has gait analysis, does that mean they will definitely get referred for surgery?

Having gait analysis done doesn’t mean that your child will get referred for surgery. The information from the analysis will help you, your child, and your care team determine the best treatments based upon your goals.

6. Who are all the healthcare providers involved in gait analysis and what are their roles?

The healthcare providers involved in gait analysis can include: orthopedic surgeon, physical therapist, kinesiologist, engineer, researchers, and technicians. This is a multidisciplinary and highly trained team of experts in both the collection and interpretation of gait analysis data.  

7. Are children and their families happy with the outcomes of having gait analysis? 

A gait analysis provides comprehensive data that improves the understanding of walking function and the possible causes of walking difficulties and in some cases after multiple gait analysis tests, can document an improvement or decline in walking function. It is important to understand prior to a gait analysis what is possible in terms of the information provided by gait analysis so that there are no disappointments following. Gait analysis allows for a better understanding of a walking problem. The outcomes in terms of treatment decisions related to gait analysis vary depending on the goals of treatment and the provider making the treatment decisions. Satisfaction with treatment outcomes depends on understanding all treatment options and setting realistic goals for the treatment and is not based up on the gait analysis procedure itself.    

8. How long is a gait analysis appointment? 

The length of gait analysis appointments can vary by the number of tests required, the level of disability and the ability of the individual to cooperate. The duration is generally between 2-3 hours. The best estimate of the time for a motion analysis for a given patient can be provided at the time of scheduling when the specifics of the motion analysis and the child are known.