Video Gait and Running Analysis in Physical Therapy

Video gait and movement analysis may be used in physical therapy.
Your physical therapist may use video movement analysis to augment your rehabilitation.. Echo/ Getty Images

If you are suffering from an injury or illness that causes pain or limits your functional mobility, you may benefit from physical therapy to manage your pain and help you return to your previous level of activity.

Your physical therapist will conduct various tests and measures during your first session.  These may include tests of your range of motion, strength, functional mobility or balance.  Your physical therapist may also perform a gait analysis if you are having trouble walking or running.

Video gait analysis is an assessment technique in physical therapy where your PT uses a video camera to record how you are walking or running (or performing any other motion or task).  The information gathered on video can then be analyzed to see small changes or impairments in your gait or movement.

Benefits of Video Gait and Motion Analysis

There are many benefits to using video gait and motion analysis in physical therapy.  These include:

  • The video serves as a baseline reference to monitor progress.
  • The video can be slowed down or paused to see various nuances in your motion that may be causing your injury or pain.
  • The video can be manipulated to measure joint angles and motions that may be difficult to assess in real time.

Common Uses of Video Movement Analysis

Video motion analysis can be used for just about any movement or activity.  Commonly, it is used to analyze gait and running form.  It can also be used to record sport specific activities.

 These may include:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Golf swing
  • Baseball swing
  • Tennis serve
  • Jumping and plyometrics

In reality, any motion or activity can be recorded and analyzed by your physical therapist.  Are you feeling shoulder pain that causes difficulty putting dishes away in a cupboard?  Video motion analysis may be used to spot slight changes in your shoulder motion that may be causing your pain and mobility limitations.

Methods of Video Analysis

Your physical therapist can use various methods to capture a video image of you.  He or she may use a video camera on a tripod.  Advances in technology now allow your physical therapist to use a computer and specialized programs to analyze your walking, running, or motion.

Three are also many different applications available on a tablet (like an iPad) to help your physical therapist analyze your video.  ÜberSense and Coach's Eye are two apps available on the iPad that allow your physical therapist to slow down your video and measure joint angles of your motion.  Dartfish is a company that offers both an iPad app and a software package for computer use for gait and motion analysis.

Finding a Physical Therapist Who Uses Video Analysis

If you are injured and feel you may benefit from a video gait, running, or movement analysis, you should take a few steps to find a PT who uses video analysis.

Your doctor is a good person to ask about video analysis.  He or she likely has referred patients to specific physical therapists who use it and will be able to guide you in the correct direction.

If your doctor does not know of a physical therapist who performs video gait analysis, you will have to find one on your own.  There are specific questions that you should ask before starting physical therapy when you call to make your appointment.  Ask about video gait or running analysis when you call.  If your PT uses it, find out if he or she is able to slow the video down and make measurements of joint angles and motions.

If your physical therapist is able to perform video analysis, he or she should be able to discuss the benefits of the analysis before you start physical therapy.

Sometimes after injury or illness, movement dysfunction may occur that leads to pain or functional mobility issues.  Occasionally this dysfunction or impairment is difficult to assess.  Using video gait, running, or movement analysis may provide your physical therapist with the ability to slow down and measure various motions.  This ability may lead to a more accurate diagnosis and rehabilitation program that can help you return to your previous level of function quickly and safely.

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