Quantification of human motion: gait analysis-benefits and limitations to its application to clinical problems

J Biomech. 2004 Dec;37(12):1869-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2004.02.047.


The technology supporting the analysis of human motion has advanced dramatically. Past decades of locomotion research have provided us with significant knowledge about the accuracy of tests performed, the understanding of the process of human locomotion, and how clinical testing can be used to evaluate medical disorders and affect their treatment. Gait analysis is now recognized as clinically useful and financially reimbursable for some medical conditions. Yet, the routine clinical use of gait analysis has seen very limited growth. The issue of its clinical value is related to many factors, including the applicability of existing technology to addressing clinical problems; the limited use of such tests to address a wide variety of medical disorders; the manner in which gait laboratories are organized, tests are performed, and reports generated; and the clinical understanding and expectations of laboratory results. Clinical use is most hampered by the length of time and costs required for performing a study and interpreting it. A "gait" report is lengthy, its data are not well understood, and it includes a clinical interpretation, all of which do not occur with other clinical tests. Current biotechnology research is seeking to address these problems by creating techniques to capture data rapidly, accurately, and efficiently, and to interpret such data by an assortment of modeling, statistical, wave interpretation, and artificial intelligence methodologies. The success of such efforts rests on both our technical abilities and communication between engineers and clinicians.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Data Display
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Electromyography
  • Expert Systems
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / diagnosis
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology*