25 July 2012
Sports enthusiasts in and around Southampton were impressed last week when they were invited to witness a demonstration and try for themselves the biomechanical gait laboratory at Spire Southampton Hospital.
Various members of sports clubs and teams from across the Southampton area came along for the opportunity to see an assessment in action and ask questions of the specialists who carried out the demonstration; Specialist Orthopaedic Physiotherapist Mel South and Podiatrist Simon Collins.
The assessment provides a full analysis of a person’s walking and running pattern using state-of-the-art digital equipment that is also used by experts at the Olympics, providing accurate and detailed information for the specialists to work with.
After talking through a person’s history and lifestyle, a physical evaluation shows range of movement and any patterns in the way they walk or run.
The person walks on a treadmill and is filmed from two angles, and using Dartfish digital video analysis technology the footage can be analysed at various speeds, allowing the specialist to then review and measure specific details such as joint angles.
A Tekscan pad is then used to measure the pressure distribution for a person when standing or walking, highlighting gait patterns and creating images for the specialist to examine.
As Physiotherapist Mel South explains, “The assessment isn’t meant to focus on single issues or isolate any problem a patient is having, but to perform a series of different tests that build us a complete picture, so we can establish not only exactly what the problem might be, but also why it’s happening and how best we can try to solve it.
“So many factors can affect a person’s gait, and that makes it important for us to look at all the available information before making any decisions. By using the combines skills of a physiotherapist, a podiatrist and the technology here, we can ensure that the diagnosis we make and the advice we give is specifically tailored to each person we see.”
Dan Goldstraw, who came along to the event, works at a school for children with special educational needs, and is a youth cricket coach who specialises in mentoring fast bowlers. He said, “I thought it was a really interesting demonstration. Working with young people in sport, and being an ex-sportsman myself, I know how important it can be to get a full assessment and any specialist treatment or support at an early stage when potential health issues arise. To know this facility is available is fantastic, and it means I have somewhere I can refer people to in the future.”