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Frontpage News 2009 First gait lab in the Czech Republic

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First gait lab in the Czech Republic

On 22 June, the Faculty Hospital in Brno opened the first and only gait laboratory in the Czech Republic. Gait analysis records muscle activity during walking and enables doctors to make confident recommendations for surgical treatments for children with cerebral spastic palsy.

The new laboratory has been supported with a €377,000 grant from Norway. According to Jan Poul, head of the laboratory, one of the main advantages of the device is its great accuracy. Gait analysis is based on a computerised 3-D motion analysis, tracking information from electronic monitors taped on the patient`s body and under his or her feet to reconstruct how the person walks. 8 infrared cameras are used to document the movements.

While gait laboratories are common in orthopaedic clinics in Western Europe and the US, the gait lab in Brno is the first one in Czech Republic. Domestic health insurance companies do not reimburse for these examinations, but until 2011 the costs will be covered by the Norway Grants and examinations will be free for all patients. Director Poul hopes that the insurance companies will find resources to cover the tests after 2011.

Surgical recommendations for children with cerebral palsy in the Czech Republic have until now been based on clinical examinations of the child laying down or standing. Complex abnormal movements in spastic patients are however difficult to spot with the naked eye. The new equipment is expected to significantly decrease the number of medical errors caused by false judgement, by providing doctors with a precise tool to base their recommendations for surgical and medical treatments.

The new lab has been met with great interest from families with children with cerebral palsy. To meet the high demand, the laboratory keeps open six days a week and 200 children are currently on the waiting list. Annually, the laboratory will be able to examine about 700 to 800 children.

Cerebral palsy is a chronic, non-progressive central nervous system disorder that severely affects the quality of life of the afflicted children and their families. The gait laboratory may significantly improve orthopaedic surgery results on the basis of a better knowledge of the individual`s locomotive organs.