Gait study: The only sway is Essex

Anglia Ruskin
Studying the Essex walk Photo: Anglia Ruskin University

Researchers hope that studying the gait of people in Essex, could lead hospital patients walking back to happiness.

Scientists at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford have created the UK's first gait analysis laboratory. They will be studying the walking style of Essex residents in a bid to help those recovering from surgery.

The centre will provide a database of normal walking styles, or gaits, which can be used to better treat people recovering from knee or hip surgery or other medical conditions.

The new Postgraduate Medical Institute is an exact replica of one at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, the leading hospital for orthopaedics in the USA.

Dr Rajshree Mootanah, Director of the Medical Engineering Research Group at the University said the people of Essex are likely to have a different gait to New Yorkers, and a research project to establish a local database will allow more accurate testing and analysis of patients, ranging from burns victims to those who have just undergone hip or knee surgery.

When we are working with patients it is important to have a reference database of ‘normal’ gait to compare them to.

The only database we have is of the New York population and we believe there may be slight but still significant differences to the way our local population walks due to the different racial make-up of the two groups

– Dr Rajshree Mootanah, Director of the Medical Engineering Research Group at Anglia Ruskin

Now the project is looking for volunteers to take part:

“We are looking for volunteers, aged 18 or over, who are able to walk without impediment. The volunteers will have the force of their steps measured by special pressure plates embedded in the floor while their gait will be recorded by 3D motion capture, which is similar to the systems used by the CGI departments of Hollywood studios.

“Although people will have small markers attached to the ‘bony’ parts of their body, such as their pelvis, feet, and shoulders, taking part in the study will be totally painless and the biomechanics data gathered will be of great value to our future work.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the study should email rajshree.mootanah@anglia.ac.uk or phone 0845 196 3909 (9am-5pm).

Walking
Computer programming to analyse gait Credit: Anglia Ruskin University