Of course, our real reason for being in Minnesota wasn’t electricity, it was the Gillette gait lab.
We reported early on Monday morning, stopping at the clinics first for height and weight, then heading downstairs to the gait lab.
Sarah Kate changed into shorts and they filmed her from several different angles, walking both in and out of her braces and shoes. Following the video, they put her through the measurement drills – checking angles, checking movement, checking to see how much strength she had.
I’ll be honest – that part was the least fun for me. I know in my head how bad things are, but until you’re sitting in a room hearing a professional call out things like “70 degrees” and “zero” and watching your child unable to flex or rotate her feet in any sort of meaningful way, it’s easy to not think about it.
After the marathon measurement session, they moved on to hooking her up for the electromyogram.
They connected sensors – little silver balls that are reflective – all over her legs and feet, as well as a few locations on her upper body. The same technology is used in movies and video games to naturally replicate movement onscreen.
Once all of the leads were connected, they took her back to the big room where they had filmed her and filmed her again. This time, however, they used a dozen special cameras placed at various points all around the room that detect the silver balls and generate a model of her movement.
The gait lab is a big windowless room, but double doors opened into a hallway with lots of windows. At one point during the motion capture/electromyogram portion, one of the ladies walked out into the hallway and noted that it had started snowing. Big, heavy flakes were raining down out of the sky, so we got excited. 🙂 She left the door open so Sarah Kate could see the snow out the window.
Sarah Kate seemed kinda bored and sleepy during most of the test up to that point (excepting the surprise snowfall), but she perked up a little when the gait lab engineer let us view her data on his screen.
It’s pretty amazing – and a little weird, really – to see that familiar gait recreated with dots on a computer screen.
In addition to the motion capture, the gait lab also has sensors in the floor that recorded the pattern and distribution of pressure under her feet, and we got to see those images, as well.
The final portion of the gait analysis was the energy expenditure measurement.
The point of it was to determine how hard Sarah Kate has to work to walk around. She was required to sit in a chair for ten minutes with a mask over her face – she couldn’t hold a book or iPad to read, eat, or move around, but she was allowed to watch TV. When the ten minutes was up, she kept the mask on and walked around the hallways for several minutes.
The full report won’t be available for several weeks, but the gait lab team planned to evaluate all of the data on Monday afternoon and provide it to the orthopedist for our Tuesday morning appointment.
When we finished up, we called the hotel to request pickup by the shuttle. Unfortunately, all of the shuttles were on airport runs so they told us it would be at least a half hour. We decided to wait, but after a few minutes we changed our minds. We had Sarah Kate’s chair, so we decided to walk back – it’s only a couple of blocks.
In the snow. 🙂
More on the Minnesota trip – i.e., The Verdict – on Thursday.