Purpose: To assess the current status of computerized gait analysis techniques in the management of children with cerebral palsy or spina bifida who have significant walking disorders.
Method: Synthesis of available data from a review of the literature, drawing on MEDLINE, EMBASE, PRE-MEDLINE, HealthStar and PsychInfo. Other information was obtained from persons with expertise in computerized gait analysis. Cost data were obtained from Canadian rehabilitation centres and the provincial health ministry.
Results: This technology seems helpful in detecting gait changes. However, available evidence is insufficient to draw conclusions about the influence of computerized gait analysis on treatment outcomes. Part of the rationale for use of the technology is that costs of gait analysis (of the order of $ CAN 2,000 per examination) would be offset by a decrease in follow-up surgical procedures and associated hospital care. There could also be a major influence on children's independence and quality of life. However, there are as yet no convincing data to support these propositions.
Conclusions: Computerized gait analysis is a potentially useful technology in the management of children with walking disabilities, but its efficacy is not established. It should be regarded as a developing technology and its clinical application linked to systematic collection and assessment of outcomes data.