Freedom to Ride

Patients at Our New Motion Analysis Lab Receive High-Tech Diagnoses for Better Treatments, Better Outcomes

Riley was one of the first patients seen at Cincinnati Children’s new Motion Analysis Lab – the only lab of its kind in the region.Sitting high on a horse, Riley scans the world around her with ease. With a pull on the reins, Riley can quickly and effortlessly glide around the ring. Relying on her legs for movement, however, isn’t as easy.

Riley, 14, was born with developmental delays and mobility issues. Getting around home or school is difficult and exhausting due to her lack of muscle coordination, stiff muscles and rigid joints.

Riley doesn’t let her legs slow her down. She runs and plays, picking herself up if she falls. Last summer, however, she started having more accidents, falling more.

“She was getting more scrapes and bruises,” says Shelly, Riley’s mom. “Her father and I were concerned. We didn’t want her to become seriously injured or lose her passion for being active.”

Shelly and her husband, Rick, knew Riley would need orthopaedic treatment of some kind one day. The time had come to see if bracing, physical therapy, surgery or a combination of all would be necessary for Riley to keep her mobility.

To find the answer, Riley’s parents turned to the world renowned orthopaedic experts and the new, state-of-the-art Motion Analysis Lab at Cincinnati Children’s.

Expert Care Close to Home

Cincinnati Children’s is now home to the region’s only pediatric Motion Analysis Lab, thanks to a generous gift from Ohio National Financial Services. As part of the Center for Advanced Technology at Cincinnati Children’s, the lab offers cutting-edge technology to better evaluate and treat orthopaedic and mobility issues.

“The Motion Analysis Lab allows us to enhance our services to patients with cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular impairments, providing targeted diagnostics and enhancing the treatment planning process,” says Jason Long, PhD, director of the Motion Analysis Lab.

The key to the new lab is a high-tech diagnostic instrument that allows doctors to see exactly how a patient walks, how their muscles function and how their joints move.

“Our team is excited to offer this leading-edge care at Cincinnati Children’s,” says James McCarthy, MD, director, Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery.

“Information from the lab identifies treatment options and assists in monitoring the effects of the treatments to make sure they’re working. In many cases, the Motion Analysis Lab can help patients avoid surgery,” Dr. McCarthy says.

Before the opening of the lab in August 2011, families had to travel hundreds of miles round trip for an assessment. Often children went without this vital service because their families lacked the resources to travel for evaluation.

Now, expert care is available close to home. The Motion Analysis Lab is on track to help more than 100 patients in its first year, and that number is likely to grow.

“The Motion Analysis Lab at Cincinnati Children’s is probably one of the best equipped labs in the United States,” says Jenny Schmit, PT, DPT, PhD, senior physical therapist. “The space is beautiful, and we are exceeding the number of patients we expected to see in the first year.”

The Complete Picture

When Riley arrived for her appointment, a physical therapist examined her range of motion, muscle strength, motor control and tone. Her family also answered questions to help the therapist understand more about her quality of life. In the Motion Analysis Lab, she was fit with small reflective markers that were placed on her skin with tape. As she walked back and forth through the lab, the motion of these markers was tracked by high speed cameras positioned around the room. These motions could then be analyzed so her doctors could understand how she was walking and why she might be falling more.

Riley’s exam at the Motion Analysis Lab was vital to gaining a full understanding of her condition. It was already known that her right hip was coming out of its socket, but the technology revealed her left hip was also causing a problem. With the complete picture, Riley’s parents and care team were able to develop the best treatment plan.

“After we went to the lab, we had the whole picture,” Shelly says. “It found things that could not be caught before. It sees things the human eye can’t catch.”

Following her evaluation, Riley and her family met with Dr. McCarthy to discuss the results. Aided with that information, they decided Dr. McCarthy would perform surgery to rotate her hip and lengthen muscles. Now, she follows up with physical therapy.

Less than a year after the operation, her family is already seeing improvements with her mobility.

“We are so happy that we were able to offer this to Riley,” Shelly says. “It has been such a good experience for our family and we are happy with the results.”

Share Your Story

If you have had an experience with Cincinnati Children's, we invite you to share your story.