On Monday, we had S’s long awaited appointment at the Gait Laboratory at the Royal Children’s Hospital here in Melbourne.
We started down the path of a Gait lab appointment because S has developed a habit of dragging (dropping) his feet when he walks in his walker, especially his right foot.
The question then needed to be asked – is he doing it because of tightness in his muscles? weakness? Some other complication related to an aspect of his brain injury? Or is it just plain old fashioned laziness because it’s just an easier way to walk?
I knew that whatever the case, we are really lucky to have access to the high tech Gait Lab at the RCH where we could get some expert advice on just what is going on with his walking.
I had envisioned that he would be wired up with electronic sensors that would analyse his movements, but as it was, all he had to do was walk up and down a long walkway several times, firstly in his kaye walker, with and then without his piedro boots) and then on his own (which included many stumbles as he’s not managing that many independent steps without falls).
They had several cameras honed in on him that were recording his every moment from different angles.
All of this footage will then be analysed to look at just what is going on with his walking. I didn’t ask too many questions (was too busy keeping S entertained us he walked up and down) but they recorded from several different angles and there were ‘plates’ in the floor that I imagine were also recording data about the way he was walking. All of this will later be able to construct a clear image of just how S is walking and what we can possibly do to improve his gait.
Very promising was the intial assessment of the lovely physio who ran the clinic. She believes that the Kaye walker (which S has used since he was 2) is probably just too easy for him now and he’s taking the lazy way out. This was the best case scenario we could have hoped for.
She also took some measurements of his hips, his foot movement etc but she was very happy with the flexibility that he has in his feet and agrees that there’s little sign of tightness.
We won’t get the detailed analysis until well into 2010 (the physio said possibly not until Feb because of Christmas, hols etc), but she has suggested that next year we should be looking into trying out some crutches or sticks with S.
I worry a little about how well co-ordinated his arms are to manage something like this, but will definitely be willing to give it a try.
Sorry there are no pics. I took the camera, but forgot the memory card. Yes, I really am nearly 36 weeks pregnant ;-). This ‘virtual tour’ at least gives you a bit of an idea about what it looks like.
S was very happy to do everything that was asked of him, and was rewarded at the end with a very cute Santa hat with flashing stars on it.
And for us, that means an end to appointments for 2009. Woohoo! Bring on Christmas, my birthday, New Years, new house, new baby – all before the end of January 2010……