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3.5 Starting a Gait Lab

CGA FAQ: Starting a gait-lab

from BIOMCH-L 22/6/95
        If you're considering getting into the gait lab business, let me suggest
that you search
out the experience of established gait labs and learn from their process
instead of
reinventing the wheel.  There are several gait labs of excellence throughout
the US:
        Newington Children's Hospital in Newington, CT
        Biomotion Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston)
        Children's Hospital at San Diego
        Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center in Downey, CA

All of the above mentioned labs are staffed jointly by engineers of one
discipline or another,
PTs, and MDs - some more present than others. The Children's Hospital-San
Diego group
teaches a week long course every fall (usually towards the end of
september/beginning of
October) which is well worth the time and effort for all participating
regardless of training
(e.g. PT, engineer, MD, etc.)

        An alternative network you may wish to seek is the East Coast Gait Lab
Consortium.  If you contact either Newington, or MGH they could put you in
touch with
the entirety of the consortium. (Yes there is a west coast analogue).

        Finally, an excellent source is the lab of David Winter, Ph.D. at the
University of
Waterloo (Ontario, CAN).  Dr. Winter is retiring or has retired, but has
left an established
legacy of excellent work.  In fact, his group is hosting a conference at
Waterloo this June (I
believe) the topics being gait and posture.

        Best of luck.  If you need more help, I can put you in touch with the
Boston and
San Diego people directly.

Carolynn Patten, PT
Department of PT
Boston University
We just renovated our gait lab so we were forced to address many of the
questions you are
asking (we also have the resources to make or program anything - is we had
enough time
and money).  To get right to the point.  The Ariel Performance Analysis
System is such a
cost effective way to add 3D kinematic and kinetic motion analysis to a gait
lab that is
would be silly to build it yourself ($10,000.00 US - complete). Ours has not
arrived yet but
the system appears stable, accurate, and easy to use.  We already have an
AMTI force
plate and our own EMG system.  We will use the AMTI with Ariel System and
hook our EMG bioamps into the Ariel A/D board.  You could make your own
frame and accessories to save money.  We also bought the panning accessory
since our lab
is a bit narrow and would benefit from a larger image of the patient on-screen.

Thats all for now.  Let me know if you have any specific questions.  Good luck.

Ed Lemaire, MSc
The Rehabilitation Centre
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
613-737-7350 x5592
Surf into the web (WWW) at:
What you are suggesting is quite an undertaking.  I have worked with a
variety of gait and
biomechanics laboratories, and so have an idea of what is needed in one.  I
can mostly
address the resources that you will need.
Three basic things you need are a facility, equipment and personnel.
For the facility, you need an area where gait can be performed; i.e., large
enough for a
walkway for gait to be performed (>25 ft for walking, >50 ft for running).
For equipment, budget at least $200k to start-up.  Basic purchases you will
want will
include:  $100k for a motion analysis system, $20k per force plate, $20k for
EMG, $20k
for misc. electronics and computers.  These are very rough estimates.
The most important thing to establishing a lab is your personnel.  You want
to have people
who are already knowledgeable in the collection of gait data.  Once a
commitment is made
by the Sports Medicine Department to have a gait lab, the first thing you
should do is find
someone experienced in this type of work to put together a full plan and
have it happen.
Good Luck.
I'm the President of Medical Analytical Products.  We specialize in the
measurement of
human performance and then offer solutions to the treatment and
rehabilitation of any
musculoskeletal injuries that may arise. We carry the Noraxon EMG equipment,
which is
the best EMG around, and we are in contact with, and can interface with all
the major
motion measurement systems.  The EMG can be telemetered out to 300 yards.
This will
allow for complete freedom of movement that is necessary when analyzing
sports situations.  We can also telemeter goniometers and footswitches that
allow for the
ROM/EMG relationship to be precisely analyzed.
Give me a call or drop me a note if you'd like more information or any help
with your
startup plans.


Michael Rowling
Medical Analytical Products
1625 East Darby Road
Havertown, PA 19083
(610) 449-4879 (800) 352-2301  Fax: (610) 853-2925 E-Mail:
Dr. Bob Soutas-Little ( has a consulting firm for setting up
biomechanics labs.  Good luck.
I suggest you get a quote from Edi Cramp at Motion Lab Systems in Baton
Rouge (504)
928-0616.  He is the rep for Vicon.  We use the system in a clinical setting
and although
expensive it is outstanding--fast and accrate.  ---Michael Orendurff
I recently wrote a chapter on computerized gait analysis for a book titled
biomechanics of the lower extremity.  It should be coming out soon.

In researching the field I found very few concrete uses for gait analysis.
 One of the major problems is that we do not know what to measure and if we find
something to measure are we sure that it correlates with or causes pathology.

The chapter is written with the expected audience of medical practitioners,
so it may not be
exactly what you are looking for.  If you want more info e-mail me.

Eric Fuller DPM
Dean, I have started looking into the similar equipment some time ago--
wanted to come up
with some tools to measure and evaluate the students performance in the
martial arts school
I attend.
  The most info I picked up was from vendors on a list in the Biomechanics
Yellow pages
and the article of the Korean researcher on the low-cost video measuring
system from last
week note (you are probably familiar with the sources). Also, magnetic,
optical and other
(Power Glove, etc.) trackers are used in Virtual Reality applications and
there are
discussions on them on the list.
  The cost of the equipment for what I had in mind (force plates and
tracking) is prohibitive
for me as an individual so I was very glad to see your note. I am a software
engineer here in
Atlanta, so if you ever need one on your staff (full time or on volunteer
basis) give me a
  Good luck on your lab,

I work for a company called Novel, in Munich, who research, develop and then
pressure distribution measuring systems, including a platform for analysing
the pressure
distribution between the foot and the ground, and flexible insoles for
measuring the pressure
distribution between the foot and the shoe. Such systems are also obviously
capable of
measuring the applied normal force and are often used in conjunction with
gait analysis

We have a sister company in the USA called Novel Electronics Inc., and I
suggest that if
you are interested in any further information you contact Mrs. Susan
Diekraeger. The
address is:

        Novel Electronics Inc.
        Business and Technology Center Suite 266
        Box 82
        511 11 Av.
        S. Minneapolis
        MN 55415

        Tel: 612-332-8605
        Fax: 612-332-9606

Susan is a very easy person to approach and I am sure would be very happy to
give you
any advice about these systems that you may need.

Best wishes

Dr. Anna Hayes
Biomechanics Research Laboratory
Novel gmbh
Beichstrasse 8
80802 Munich

Tel: 089-390102
Fax: 089-337432
You might also want to check out this ref: From:    John Baker

  Subject: Sci-VW: ONLINE: Technical Report - VR Tracking Systems After some
requests, I'm posting the location my tech report which describes some VR
systems and one I built in 1993. or ftp
  All queries etc  Email :

  It's a compressed postscript file.

    I am writing in response to your request for advice/leads on developing
a gait lab that is
posted in the "biomech" Newsgroup on the Internet.  I hope you find this
information useful.
    I am an employee of Northern Digital Inc., a company based in Waterloo,
Northern Digital developes and manufactures a device that can track rapid
motions of
objects in three dimensional space.  This device, the OPTOTRAK, is an
infrared marker
based optical measurement system that is used in a wide variety of
applications, including
gait analysis.
    If you would like more information about the OPTOTRAK, please do not
hesitate to
contact me.  My address, e-mail, phone and fax numbers are listed below.
Thank you for
your attention.

    Andy Johnston
    403 Albert Street
    Waterloo, Ontario
    CANADA N2L 3V2

    Phone: 800-265-2741
    Fax: 519-884-5184
It is much better to buy what is available, like a turn-key system from B&L
They install VICON Systems and EMG measurement systems. The equipment alone
about $200,000.
I did this for Vanderbilt University's new rehab hospital a few years ago.
Call me if you
need any detailed information.


Rich Shiavi
Our Gait Research Lab has been in operation for approximately 4 years.  It
has taken us
about that amount of time to piece the equipment together from various
financial sources.
A fully equiped gait lab will cost about $250,000.
It would include 3-4 camera video analysis, forceplate, Telemetry EMG, pressure
assessment devices and accompanying computers.  I suggest since you are just
starting out
that you *tour* and talk to several gait labs across the country before you
dive in.  If you
don't, chances are you will not have what you think you want when it is
done.  Also attend
the Clinical Gait Conference which is held annually.  Good luck, but look
before you leap!
Mark W. Cornwall, PhD, PT
Dept. of Physical Therapy
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff, AZ
(520) 523-1606
(520) 523-9289  FAX

C. Dean Preston
Research Design Engineer
Medical Illustrator
Medical College of Georgia
Biomedical Engineering

from BIOMCH-L 22/6/95
************** About the space in general ********************

*Avoid pillars (which would obstruct your cameras' view).

*Make sure you can black the windows out so that you can use infra-red
cameras, but
can remove the blackout so that it is pleasant for people to work in
there. Make sure that extraneous people can't stare at your subjects.
Make sure disabled people can get from their cars and into your
lab easily (i.e. level access). A toilet, changing area and tea
facilities for your subjects would be nice. Make sure you can lock up
the lab securely so that you can leave equipment set up overnight.

* 18m is too short for running studies. We got around this by utilizing the
hallway.  the wall of the lab was replaced with a rolling up garage type
door.  thus i can have cameras in the lab and the subjects run down th
ehallway.  obviously not practical at
all times, but we collect running data in off hours.

* I went for no fixed tables/lab benches.  this allows lots of
flexibility.  it is hard to anticipate all needs.

* If you can avoid it don't have the running track and force platform along
one side of the lab (as ours unavoidably is), this restricts camera
placement and subject movement (e.g. side stepping).

*Following experience of a 3D PEAK study of overarm throwing we know we
require at least  40 squ metres of ceiling height (that is) at least 4 M
over the force platforms, to be certain of acheiving camera positions
allowing minimal loss of markers.

*To get sufficient run-up to the force platforms we are considering special
landscaping for a distance outside the entrance to the lab.

*Having fought hard for our space, we were shattered to discover that the
University specifications for building structure are such that at least 4
columns are required in the middle of the lab space to hold up the three
floors above. Removing these default columns is very expensive. Beware!

*About the best thing about our lab is the possibility of moving to a
different room and having it demolished!!  We can always dream!  Good
luck with your plans.

*I work in a fairly low tech lab but two major difficulties we've
had are with light reflection on the floor and vibration of the
building interfering with force platform data. I don't know
what movement analysis system you'll get but you may want to
check with them about the light reflection.

* We have teaching space as general purpose and specialised areas and have
kept separate rooms for project areas, video and film analysis, video
editing, storage, technical etc. Having been through this process several
times,  I suggest you visit a number of labs and take your pen pad and
camera with you.

* Space requirements depend not only on the motion to
be measured but the limitations of the measurement system.
If you plan to capture data with a camera, that camera must
be placed so that the field of view of the camera covers the
volume within which that motion takes place. A long thin
runway may be adequate for the motion, but it may not be possible
to place cameras at the sides of the runway to allow them to
capture useful data. If you want to capture upper body motion
the same issues apply to the vertical dimensions as for the
horizontal ones. If using a video based system, i.e. using taped
measurement, measurements are best made against a high-contrast
surface, e.g. a blank wall. If using an automatic tracking system
provision needs to be made for the volume calibration
procedure, which usually involves hanging up an object.

* Our lab (being in England) has to cope with very cold days (often)
and reasonably hot days (not so often). With a large volume
such as a motion analysis lab it is quite difficult to control
the temperature without air conditioning. There is a requirement to
keep scantily clad subjects warm and computer equipment cool.

* Secure storage of expensive video and computer equipment is also
an issue, the lab below ours has been broken into three times
and had their computers stolen. I would blame this on visibility
from outside the building. High on my wish list is a secure

* Optometric systems usually require distributed cameras linked to
VCRs or computers, lots of trailing wires, power cables, major
safety issues. A modular flexible trunking system to allow a
number of lab configurations would be a huge boon, these things
can get very expensive. We find we never have enough power sockets
in the correct places. Tied in with this is that since labs may
use a number of different experimental protocols, one needs to
access the backs of computers etc, may compromise issues of secure

* Subject prep room should lead into the lab, and ideally there
should be a toilet either off the lab area or the prep room, so
that preped subjects do not have to wander half-naked thru public
areas. Prep room ideally needs its own sink and a shower would be
ideal, especially if you are going to get subjects to run around
getting sweaty and then have to go back to work etc.

* Most impressive lab facility I have seen is the Malaysian "Sports Institute"
still under construction in Kuala Lumpur (AIS times 5 i'd guess!).  I'll
send some info in the mail.

* Avoid pillars (which would obstruct your cameras' view).

* Lab on ground floor, i.e. only concrete beneath it.

* At no point rely on the liason between the architect and equpment suppliers.
They are both after your money, and will ignore much of what they really
must do.

* See if you will want at any time in the future hang anything from the
ceiling, such as fixed position cameras. Make provisions now. Ask the
architects to build in a number of mounting brackets strong enough
to support heavy weights (such as that of an athelete).

*-enough distance between performance level and cameras
*-possibility for moving cameras

*-30m before and after the force plate will be the minimum distance
for running. Therefore, I'd like to suggest similar method as in AIS
(Canberra) where they can open the doors when necessary. The weather
is not the problem there.

* -for EMG-measurements no any electrical disturbances

******************** About the floor *************************
* Make sure you've got a rigid floor to mount your forceplate and cameras.
Another arrangement I saw was to mount the force plate to the
concrete underneath a sprung wooden floor. In that case, maybe it
would be more sensible to mount the cameras to the walls, but
then you would lose flexibility in positioning them.

* The complexity of the force platform mount really depends upon
the environment of the lab. Our lab is not on the ground floor,
so we have had to use anti-vibration mounting. Most (if not all)
force platforms results are only guaranteed by the manufacturer
for a very particular mounting, especially flat stable floor.
Best results are obtained if the platform is coupled to a large
non-vibatory mass, at least 10x the load expected to be measured.
We have used a concrete raft sitting on a anti-vibration material
called TICO-PAD used for machine mounts. It provides a wide-range
filter for low amplitude vibrations. Our raft is free standing, the
floor rests on the sides of the pit the raft is in.

* We perform mainly gait studies in our lab, with people
walking barefoot. We have opted for a lino floor so that it can
be cleaned more easily. Some people recommend carpeted floors
since they the surfaces that most people walk on with bare feet,
the advantage with a lino over concrete floor is that it
provides much more of a reproducable condition lab to lab.
A non-reflective floor surface is vital.

* -a separate huge block for force plates for preventing oscillation
 of the surrounding ground

*-floor material depends also on the reasearch: for spike shoes
Novotan, Recortan, Mondo etc. will be necessary. For many purposes
force plate without any covers will the best.

******************** Ceiling height ***************************

* We have a beam at about 8 feet (2.4m) which I think will cause
problems when we use our set of 2 stairs.

* I'd like high "real" ceilings (about 16ft).  real= not hung acoustic ceiling.
this lets me attach things to the roof solidly, plenty of room for storage
up high. it gets stuff out of the way.  here in N. california we must
secure it well for the inevitable big earthquake.

* -the height of the lab depends on the research interest

*********************** Floor ******************************

* Force plates are in a pit.  thus they are flush with the floor.  I also
had them put in a cable tunnel so that we don't have wires all over the

* Lab floor: concrete, Forceplates mounted flush, then cover with plastic

* Make room for at least three forceplates, even you only have one.

* Put forceplates flush against a level floor.
Avoid awalkway.

* position F-plates such that subjects walking over a very large
figure of 8 will pass over it.

********************* Services ******************************
* Lots of electrical outlets. we have 5 or 6 ceiling mounted receptacles
with hanging/retractable cords that lead to a four plug base.  this again
keeps wires off the floor.

* Put the overhead lights on several ciruits/switches.  that way we can
keep half the lab dim to allow for retroreflective video kinematic markers
while others work in good light in the other half of the lab.

* Mostly data is collected and then analysed, mostly on computer.
If you use the same computer for both it reduces available
lab time. We use a network to store data on network drive and
process on another computer on the same network

* Ensure lighting of the lab is adequate and problem free.

* Best to avoid Fluorescent lighting.

* Use Dichroic coated lamps (transmit heat rearward and reflect light forward).

* Use safe power levels. 600 watts may have harmful blue components.
the architect must ue Internationally recognised health & safety standards.

* Remember you cannot have trailing cables all over the place. So insist on
having conduits particularly from the F-plates. Have them large enough
to allw cables passing easily.

* You will also need enough number of power points. Remember you can have
them on the floor flush mounted with a cover too.

* enough lights and power supplies

*-permanent network connections from the lab to the analysis

********* Motion Analysis system requirements ***************

* We use a VICON370 system, which uses infra-red cameras,
so bright sunlight can mess things up. In any case it would probably
desirable to be able to control the lighting for any optometric
based motion analysis system.

******************* THANKS TO ***********************
Rodger Kram
Assistant Professor
Human Biodynamics Dept.
103 Harmon
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-4480
phone   (510) 643-9370
FAX     (510) 642-3355

Robin Burgess-Limerick
Department of Human Movement Studies
The University of Queensland  4072
Ph. +61 7 3365 4718              Fax +61 7 3365 6877

Trisha Bate                        |     email :
School of Physiotherapy            |     Phone : 03 285 5259
Faculty of Health Sciences         |       or  : 03 481 1718
La Trobe University                |     Fax   : 03 285 5225

Julie Steele

Connie  Bock
Ryegate Childrens Centre
Sheffield England

Joe Spadaro, Ph.D.
S.U.N.Y. Health Science Center - Syracuse

*  Barry D. Wilson, Ph. D.                        Phone: 64 (03) 479 8987          *
*  School of Physical Education       Fax:   64 (03) 479 8309          *
*  University of Otago                Email: *
*  Dunedin                                                             *
*  New Zealand                                                         *

Richie Gill
Research Engineer
University of Oxford
OOEC, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre

Jane Elizabeth Barrance 
Organization: University Of East London

Hamid Rassoulian
Senior Bioengineer
Dept. of Medical Physics & Medical Engineering
Southampton General Hospital
Southampton  SO16  6YD
United Kingdom

"Heikki Kyr|l{inen" 
Organization:  Liikunnan laboratorio

C. Calame
Kistler Instrumente AG Winterthur, P.O.Box 304,
CH-8408 Winterthur, Switzerland
Tel: +41 52 224 11 11, Fax: +41 52 224 14 14
Telex 896 296 KAG CH,

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