Center for Motion Analysis

Established more than 30 years ago, the internationally renowned Center for Motion Analysis at Connecticut Children’s is a full-service laboratory offering a wide range of diagnostic services for the evaluation of children with complex neuromuscular, acquired or congenital disorders that affect walking. In addition, the center is a thriving research hub that pushes the boundaries of motion analysis for the understanding of pathologic movement disorders as well as more routine actions, such as running and throwing.

The Center for Motion Analysis uses leading-edge technology to identify muscle activity, movements and other mobility nuances that are unique to each child. With this information, more accurate treatments for abnormal movements can be put in place and treatment outcomes can be objectively assessed. The diseases and conditions evaluated by our orthopaedic and sports medicine specialists at our state-of-the-art facility include:

  • Amputations
  • Brain injuries
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Conditions that cause toe-walking
  • Hip conditions
  • Legs of different lengths
  • Misaligned bones and foot deformities
  • Rheumatic (joint-related) conditions
  • Spina bifida
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Stroke

boy_walking.pngWhat is motion analysis?

Motion analysis allows our orthopaedic and sports medicine specialists to help children and adolescents maximize their physical abilities and achieve greater health and well-being as they grow. The goal of motion or gait analysis is to measure and evaluate the walking patterns of pediatric patients with specific gait-related problems.


  • Video. Specialized cameras are used to record patients walking in real-time as they move throughout the lab. Markers—tiny balls with highly reflective surfaces—are placed on the child’s skin at specific points to help collect the necessary data to evaluate walking patterns for smoothness and fluidity. Close-up views and slow motion playback help our specialists determine a child’s gait pattern.
  • Clinical Exam. A clinical exam provides measures of a pediatric patient's status at rest. Measurements may include passive joint range of motion, joint contracture, muscle strength and tone, bony deformity, and neurological assessment. This information can then be compared to the gait data to help determine the potential causes of the patient's gait deviations.
  • Kinematics. Kinematics, the study of joint motion, is the most common technique for obtaining motion data for clinical use. Specialized cameras connected to a computer illustrate the 3D motion of reflective markers aligned with specific bony landmarks on the lower extremities, pelvis and trunk to determine joint angles and motion.
  • Electromyography. Dynamic electromyography (EMG) uses either surface or intramuscular electrodes to monitor muscle activity. EMG signals give information about muscle activity while walking. This information can be used with the kinematic and kinetic data to better understand the patient's neuromuscular pathology.
  • Foot Pressure. A pedobarograph measures pressure distribution under the foot while a patient is walking. This force measurement is recorded by having a patient walk barefoot over a very thin plastic mat.

Gait analysis is a sophisticated technique used to help evaluate the complexities of a child’s walk and is a valuable tool for our specialists as they develop a treatment plan. An interdisciplinary team that includes orthopaedic physicians, physical therapists, kinesiologists, and engineers review all of the data and makes treatment recommendations such as physical therapy, medication, bracing, and surgery.