PRZOOM - /newswire/ -
Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, 2011/02/07 - A sensor simply stuck to a patient's lower back can measure walking gait to millimetre accuracy - meaning that gait can be used as a disease indicator and to check if treatments work in a range of mobility-affecting diseases.
A new device called DataGait has been developed by researchers in Oxford to allow the rapid and easy analysis of a patient’s gait – how someone walks – in any health clinic anywhere, by medics and physiotherapists. It does this to a level of precision only available previously in specialist gait laboratories and at a fraction of the cost per patient. The scientists at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK, believe that DataGait will for the first time turn ‘gait’ into a fully useful clinical indicator in frontline clinics, in Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, arthrosis and many other diseases impacting on mobility.
DataGait is a sensor and software package that is so easy to use that patients in any clinic, including those in clinical trials, can be assessed in 15 minutes, yielding a patient throughput of 20-30 a day. Measurements include step time, length and variability, cadence (rhythm), walking speed and symmetry, and energy usage.
The main components of the DataGait device are (i) a wireless motion sensor called an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which the patient wears on the lower back during a short walk; and (ii) powerful analytical software that radically improves the accuracy achievable with IMUs. The software is pre-loaded onto a laptop supplied as part of the product or it can be used on the customer’s own computer.
As the first portable gait monitor to offer millimetre accuracy, DataGait can be used by clinicians, nurses, physiotherapists, clinical trial investigators and others to detect subtle changes that elude visual inspections and simple walking tests. DataGait can help at an early stage in evaluating patients (e.g. with neurological conditions) and in the regular monitoring of mobility deficits accurately over months and years. The device can also help determine whether a treatment works or not.
DataGait has been validated against an optical motion capture system and was found to produce statistically indistinguishable data for healthy subjects and also for patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Validations in other neurodegenerative disorders are in hand.
This is a technology revolution and the clue is in the name: DataGait gives data of sufficient range and accuracy to permit ‘gait’ to come of age as a non-invasive clinical indicator of wide applicability.