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Movement Analysis Offers Quantification of the Benefit of Orthopaedic Interventions
Erin M. Mannen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Director of Translational Orthopaedic Research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
The outcomes of movement analysis may also be useful to identify areas to improve via physical therapy. For instance, total knee arthroplasty patients often experience co-contraction of hamstrings and quadriceps muscle groups during loading. This abnormal muscle activity can prevent functional progress, but it is difficult or impossible to detect with traditional clinical assessments. Electromyography enables clinicians to identify patients who could benefit from physical therapy specifically focused on retraining muscle function to avoid co-contraction.
While movement analysis is becoming more common in the hip and knee fields, the research is lacking in other subspecialties. Opportunities to develop quantifiable diagnostic tools, to analyze movement changes due to orthopaedic intervention, and to develop patient-specific therapy interventions are needed for shoulder, elbow, spine, and more. Researchers and clinicians need to work collaboratively to develop movement analysis protocols to better quantify patient function in all orthopaedic areas.
Drawbacks of a typical movement analysis laboratory include the large space, expensive equipment, and technical personnel required to test and analyze the data. The clinician-researcher team is critical to design and implement clinical movement experiments in order to obtain meaningful results that benefit patients, but this relationship is often difficult to maintain, particularly in private practice outside of an academic setting. Fortunately, easier to use, stand-alone sensors and camera systems that will eventually be incorporated into clinical settings are being developed, offering medical professionals a quick and easy way to quantify function in orthopaedic patients.
Pain-free movement and the ability to fully participate in activities of daily living are the ultimate goals for orthopaedic interventions, but current qualitative outcome measures may not fully characterize functional changes. Quantifiable measures using common movement analysis techniques provide a unique way to objectively justify the benefit of orthopaedic surgery and therapy.