Penn Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Gait and Biomechanics Laboratory

The Penn Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Gait and Biomechanics Laboratory focuses on motion and gait analysis for both patient care and research in order to better diagnose, treat, and understand movement and gait disorders.

What is Gait Analysis?

The word "gait" means a person's manner or style of walking. Gait analysis uses advanced technology to analyze the body's movement, force production and muscle activity during walking. This data can provide a physician with a better understanding of the patient's needs and in turn use this information to determine the best treatment plan. It can also be used to evaluate complex motion disorders and determine the effectiveness of surgical and non-surgical interventions.

Personalized Treatment through Analysis

The results of each analysis are combined to form a customized, comprehensive picture of the main issues affecting a patient's gait. These results can be used by clinicians to provide answers to some of the following:

  • Identify if there are significant gait disturbances between right and left sides during walking.
  • Determine which brace or walking aid is the best choice for you.
  • Assess magnitude of gait deviations from typical gait norms.
  • Examine whether muscles are activating properly during the gait cycle.

Who is Gait Analysis for?

A wide range of patients may be referred for gait analysis testing. This can include persons with:

  • Cerebral palsy, including genu recurvatum, scissor gait, equinus, femoral rotation issues
  • Amputation
  • Musculoskeletal/arthritic/orthopedic conditions
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Spina Bifida
  • Stroke
  • Balance disorders from head trauma

Research Purposes

The lab is also available for collaboration with researchers who want quantitative measures of movement to validate interventions, predict outcomes, or better understand fundamental biomechanics.

Equipment

The lab contains an 8 camera Vicon motion analysis system, 2 AMTI force plates and an 8 channel wireless Delsys EMG system.  The following is a brief description of the output of each of these systems:

Kinematics

Kinematic analysis describes the position and motions of the torso, pelvis, thigh, shin and foot at multiple angles, velocities and trajectories. The clinician or researcher views this graphical information to assess dynamic range of motion during walking or other activities.

Spatial-temporal values

This measurement describes step speed and length, and is used generally to calculate cadence, step length, step width and compare the time the foot is on the ground (stance phase) versus in the air (swing phase).

Kinetics

The force plate gives information regarding the forces acting upon the body in the anterior/posterior, medial/lateral and vertical directions. By using simultaneous inverse dynamic calculations, joint forces and moments are derived. This helps describe which muscles are active during the gait cycle and their contribution to forward progression during gait.

Electromyography

The EMG system uses surface electrodes to allow for up to eight muscles to be simultaneously tested and correlated with gait events in the gait cycle. From this testing we can determine muscle on/off times and proper phase contractions during the gait cycle.

Lab Personnel

Dr. Tim Dillingham, MD, MS

Dr. Dillingham is a physiatrist with over twenty years of experience managing gait disorders. He earned both his Doctor of Medicine degree and Master of Science degree in Bioengineering at The University of Washington. Currently, he is the Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine at Penn and Director of the Gait Lab. Dr. Dillingham also personally examines every patient that is has a gait analysis performed.

Jessica Kenia, MS

Jessica earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from the College of New Jersey and her Master of Science degree in Biomechanics from Barry University. Jessica has experience working with patients as an Exercise Physiologist and also interned at Kessler Medical Research and Rehabilitation Human Performance Lab. She is responsible for preparing patients for gait analysis along with collecting and processing the data.

What to Expect

  • A gait analysis will typically take 2 to 3 hours to complete. Arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment in order to check in at both the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic and Physical Therapy Department.
  • The patient will be evaluated by a Physical Therapist to evaluate joint range of motion and strength. An exam will also be performed by Dr. Dillingham, the Gait Lab Director and physiatrist.
  • For the gait analysis, small reflective markers and EMG sensors placed on specific anatomical locations.
  • The patient will walk several times in the lab, and possibly in various conditions: barefoot, with shoes, and with orthosis or walking aid.

For more information or to schedule your appointment, contact:

Jessica Kenia, Lab Manager 
Phone: 215-893-2678
Email:  Jessica.Kenia@uphs.upenn.edu

Location

The Gait Lab is located on the first floor of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation building at Penn Medicine Rittenhouse (1800 Lombard Street). There is an entrance to the building on South Street and on Lombard Street. If entering from South Street, the Gait Lab is down the first hallway on the left. If entering from Lombard Street, the Gait Lab would be toward the back of the building down the last hallway on the right.

Parking

A parking garage is located at 1700 South Street. Valet parking is also available on Lombard Street in front of the building.