Gait & Motion Analysis

Cerebral palsy, spina bifida (also called myelomeningocele), and other neuromuscular conditions can lead to gait abnormalities in children (gait is how a person walks). Through our pediatric gait analysis lab, we’ll use a computer to capture a 3-D model of your child’s gait so that our team can better understand your child’s needs and make the best possible recommendations for treatment.

Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington

1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE 19803
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Phone: (302) 651-4248
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U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals: Orthopedics
What to Bring
  • photo ID
  • medical and pharmacy insurance cards
  • preferred pharmacy name and phone number
  • names and dosage of all medications, including over-the-counter medication, your child is currently taking
  • guardianship and custody papers, if a legal guardian rather than a parent accompanies your child
Returning Patients
  • Patient Presents Without Legal Guardian (PDF)
    English | Spanish
    Note: A parent or legal guardian must be with a child for a first visit.
Forms & Resources
Returning Patients
  • Patient Presents Without Legal Guardian (PDF)
    English | Spanish
    Note: A parent or legal guardian must be with a child for a first visit.
Resources for Patients & Families

The pediatric Gait Analysis Laboratory at the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children was created in 1993 to provide the medical community with state-of-the art, computer-assisted motion analysis of the complex gait cycle. The lab was one of the first of its kind to diagnose gait problems in children. (Gait is how a person walks.)

Our pediatric gait analysis lab allows us to get detailed information about the:
  • movement of various joints
  • how the muscles contract
  • pressure on the limbs
  • the amount of energy required to make changes in a child’s gait

"The impact of gait analysis has changed how children with walking difficulties are diagnosed and treated. Gait analysis has allowed us to be much more specific about surgery and the surgery we’re doing has more predictable results."

Freeman Miller, MD, orthopedic surgeon and medical director,
 Gait Analysis Laboratory

At Nemours, we treat the whole child, not just the condition. Our team approach brings together experts from related specialties to give your child the best possible treatment. Working together, we offer comprehensive, compassionate, and effective care for gait problems in children.

Our Pediatric Gait Analysis Lab Team
The collection and interpretation of motion analysis data is a team effort of our:
  • pediatric orthopedic surgeon, who leads the team in interpreting the test results and recommending treatment
  • biomechanist (a mechanical engineer specially trained to apply the laws of mechanics and physics to the human body), who runs the hardware and software necessary for data collection, processes the data to generate graphics for the final report, and maintains the wide array of technical equipment in the laboratory
  • physical therapist, who supervises the child throughout the gait analysis, assists with the interpretation of the results, and can also help educate the family regarding possible recommendations
  • administrative assistant, who schedules appointments and works with families regarding insurance, reports, emergencies, and general questions

Treatments for gait problems in children also can include occupational therapy, drug therapies, and orthotic management (pediatric orthotics help to improve children’s gait, as well as support the spine, upper extremities, or lower extremities).

How Does Gait Analysis Work?

We use several computers to collect data, perform calculations, and interpret information. Adhesive electrodes attached to the body measure muscle activity and special reflective markers track joint movement. To provide a complete picture of your child’s gait, we can also use foot pressure measurement and energy analysis (see Types of Tests below).

When developing an evaluation plan for gait abnormalities in children, we consider lots of different factors, including your child’s:
  • age
  • height
  • weight
  • diagnosis
  • level of functional independence
  • ability to participate in the structured testing
Types of Tests to Assess Gait Problems in Children

The gait analysis may involve a variety of testing procedures. Working with your family, your referring physician, orthopedic surgeon, physical therapists, and other members of your clinical care team decide which tests are appropriate specifically for your child.

These tests may include:

Standard video: We videotape a variety of walking conditions for a permanent visual record of changes in your child’s gait pattern.

Physical examination: A physical therapist performs a detailed physical examination that includes measurement of joint range of motion, strength, muscle tone, and motor control.

Three-dimensional (3-D) kinematic assessment: Eight high-speed digital cameras simultaneously record the movement of the trunk and extremities as the child walks. These views are sent directly to a computer to construct a three-dimensional model that’s used to calculate joint motion.

Kinetic assessment: Force plates in the testing space measure the foot’s interaction with the ground. Three-dimensional force and torque generated by each foot strike are measured and used along with the kinematic data to determine how forces affect joints in the legs and to calculate how the child generates power for walking.

Diagnostic electromyography: We apply surface electrodes to your child’s skin to collect muscle activity data. This data is synchronized with the kinematic data so that the muscle activity patterns can be analyzed for each phase of your child’s gait.

Metabolic energy analysis: The child wears a small breathing mask to measure the volume and percentage of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the child’s exhaled air. Along with heart rate and respiratory rate, this information suggests the energy expenditure and overall efficiency of the child’s gait.

All of this information, combined with a physical examination, visual observation, and your child’s development, gives us greater insight into the causes of gait abnormalities in children.

Whatever kind of gait problems your child may have, know that at Nemours we do everything with our power to give your child the very best, most compassionate treatment possible. We treat every child as we would our own — your child, our promise.