Motion and Sports Analysis Lab

The mission of the John C. Wilson, Jr. Motion and Sports Analysis Laboratory is to improve patient’s walking ability and sports performance through state of the art comprehensive computerized motion analysis testing and research. The Lab uses a nine-camera motion capture system (analogous to the systems used for motion capture in video games and the motion picture industry) to evaluate the gait and sports performance of children and adolescents via strategically placed sensors on the body and force plates embedded in the floor.  The data are used to guide treatment and surgical plans for children with walking disorders due to cerebral palsy, spina bifida, clubfoot and many other conditions. Precise motion capture data are also used to provide a quantitative measure to help determine if there are any areas an athlete may need to focus to enhance rehabilitation following injury, and to determine an athlete’s readiness to return to participating in sports following an injury and/or surgery.

Our Patients

Currently more than 350 children are evaluated annually in the Lab. The data from their visit are evaluated by our expert team and used to direct the entire spectrum of both operative and non-operative care.  The children who benefit from our services include a broad group of patients, from those with complex walking disorders in whom walking may be difficult to high-performance athletes. Using the latest computer technology, an expert, specialized staff analyzes muscle activity and joint forces and movements in patients with such conditions as:

Complex Walking Problems

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spina Bifida
  • Arthrogryposis
  • Skeletal dysplasias

Sports Related Problems

  • ACL injury and repair
  • Patella femoral syndrome
  • Knee Pain
  • Patella instability/ dislocation
  • Symptoms limiting participation

Other Orthopaedic Conditions

  • Clubfoot
  • Femoral and tibial torsion
  • Slipped capital femoral epiphysis

Impact of Motion Analysis

Comprehensive motion and sports analysis testing makes the diagnosis and treatment of movement disorders much more precise. Many of the abnormalities diagnosed with the assistance of the computerized motion analysis can not be correctly assessed without this technology.  Motion analysis testing helps surgeons accurately determine and quantify the causes of problems arising from positioning of the hip, knee and ankle, along with deformities of the long bones of the legs.

The impact of gait analysis is dramatic:

  • Pre-operative motion analysis results in changes to surgical plans for nearly 90% of children evaluated in the motion lab.
  • Pre-operative motion analysis reduces the need for additional surgeries done at a later date by 67%.
  • Repeat motion analysis following surgery results in recommendations for changes in post-operative care in 84% of cases. Recommendations may include:
    • Botulinum toxin injections
    • Serial casting
    • Physical therapy
    • Changes in bracing to maximize the outcome of surgery and further improve the patient's mobility

Motion analysis testing also allows surgeons to evaluate problems at all joints simultaneously, which enables them to perform surgical correction of all problems in a single surgical session. This leads to improved quality of life for children and families, whose lives would otherwise be disrupted every few years for surgical procedures.

Impact of Sports Analysis Testing

Sports biomechanical testing helps to identify the precise movement abnormalities and abnormal forces at the joints that cause symptoms limiting sports participation and that increase the risk of injury for the athlete. The results guide the treatment plans to improve muscle strength and body movements to facilitate return to sport and decrease the risk of injury. Re-evaluation helps to precisely identify improvements and readiness to return to sport.

The Testing

Motion Analysis

A comprehensive motion analysis test consists of:

  • Detailed clinical evaluation and videotaping.
  • Evaluation of the pressures occurring in the feet during walking.
  • 3-D kinematic and kinetic measures of joint motions and forces during walking
  • Surface and fine wire dynamic electromyography measurements of muscle activity and timing.
  • Integration and interpretation of the findings.
  • Physician review and recommendations based on the results.

Sports Assessment

A comprehensive sports assessment consists of:

  • An interview about sports participation and injury history
  • Warm up on a treadmill or bike
  • Muscle strength testing
  • 3-D kinematic and kinetic measures of joint motions and force during running, squatting, accelerating, decelerating, jumping and cutting.
  • Dynamic electromyography measurements of muscle activation.
  • Integration and interpretation of findings.
  • A copy of the complete report including an assessment of injury risk and recommendations to decrease the risk of injury.


At the John C. Wilson, Jr. Motion and Sports Analysis Lab, we are constantly striving to advance the field of motion analysis. Our research includes:

  • Clinical outcomes research
    Studies in this area document the efficacy of surgical procedures, evaluate whether one procedure is preferable to another for the treatment of particular problems, and identify which patients are the best candidates for specific surgeries. This research ranges from retrospective reviews of clinical data to randomized controlled trials. We have used motion analysis data to study the effects of bone surgery in the upper and lower leg (femur and tibia), hamstring lengthening and distal rectus femoris transfer, calf muscle lengthening procedures, and bracing with ankle-foot orthoses, among others.
  • Impact of gait analysis
    We have conducted extensive research to understand the impact that gait analysis has on clinical decision-making, treatment, and outcomes. Our studies have shown that 89% of pre-operative treatment plans change after consideration of gait analysis data. Our research has also demonstrated that outcomes are much better when treatment follows gait analysis recommendations and that less subsequent surgery is needed when gait analysis is done.
  • Movement biomechanics of pediatric athletes
    We are using motion analysis to identify movement patterns causing pain or orthopaedic problems or placing the pediatric athlete at risk for subsequent injury. This information is used to improve rehabilitation programs and to determine when an athlete is ready to return to sports. We are researching the differences between young pre-adolescent athletes and older middle and high school athletes with the aim of preventing future injury by identifying and correcting risky biomechanical patterns before injury happens.