December 2016

Leading innovation in gait and balance measurement

By LER Staff

“Managing and synthesizing accurate gait data is essential to outcomes-driven healthcare, however, every successful system purchase demands an equally successful system implementation,” said ProtoKinetics co-founder Michael Rowling. “ProtoKinetics promotes our products based on exceptional quality, support and services. That’s why in 2016, hospitals, universities, private clinics, device manufactures and several pharmaceutical companies acquired our products.”

Their support team includes: Rowling, BS (Kinesiology) with a global view of healthcare and attention to researchers’ and clinicians’ requirements, Youan Chang, PhD (Computer Science & Applied Mathematics) a leading innovator in statistics and signal processing, Patrick Roscher, MS (Biomechanics), and Arnaud Gouelle, PhD (Motor Control). Their combined clinical and research experience makes them uniquely qualified to guide their clients through all the steps necessary for a successful system implementation.

Rowling and Chang, former management employees of CIR Systems Inc., acquired the GAITRiteTM technology from CIR Systems and formed ProtoKinetics in April 2012. In less than five years, their best-in-class product and product knowledge, combined with expert customer service, have produced the most popular “gait mat” technology in the world, said Rowling.

ProtoKinetics engaged ZenoMetrics, headed by Constantin Trantzas, inventor and manufacturer of the GAITRiteTM System, to create a new generation of walkways, conceptually based on the GAITRiteTM. The Zeno Walkway has upgraded electronics and sensing technology that achieve superior sensitivity and linearity. The two- or three-layer portable low-profile housing reduces sensor damage and prevents the edges from curling. This facilitates a smooth transition onto the surface for both assisted and unassisted walking. The Zeno is available in 2-, 3-, and 4-foot widths and 8- to 52-foot lengths.

ProtoKinetics promotes their products based on exceptional quality, support and services.

“Teaming up with Zenometrics to rename and improve the GAITRiteTM has allowed ProtoKinetics to maintain complete continuity in producing our validated Zeno Walkway,” stressed Rowling. “Customers are thrilled with the improved look and versatility of the Zeno and can’t believe that PKMAS (ProtoKinetics Movement Analysis Software) is so powerful, easy-to-use, and graphically-pleasing.”

“The groundbreaking measurements that Chang has already implemented into PKMAS are, according to our customers, ‘revolutionary’ and ‘game-changers,’” Rowling said.  It allows unlimited collection of multiple passes on the Zeno Walkway. Trials can be started when the patient is standing or in flight, enabling assessment of balance, walking, running, and jumping.

In addition to the standard temporal spatial parameters, there are five unique measurements within PKMAS: Symmetry of Propulsion (SoP), Multiple Footfall Computations (MFC), center of mass estimated (COMe), PKMAS Primary Gait Screen (PGS) and the Gait Variability Index (GVI).

SoP illustrates the relationship between single- and double-leg support. A graphical display of typical SoP performance looks like an hourglass, while pathological gaits present asymmetric patterns. These elegant graphical displays and quantitative metrics offer tremendous insight into the complexity of walking.

The MFC offers a visual and quantitative measurement of stance phase performance. Consistent, stable gait should exhibit overlapping smooth curves, whereas instability or variable gait look quite different.

Control of the center of mass is fundamental to proper walking and balance; when compromised, this may lead to falls and decreased mobility. Gait lab equipment, such as high-speed cameras, reflective markers and force plates, are impractical for clinical use. PKMAS/Zeno, however, instantaneously calculates COMe, allowing clinicians to make more informed decisions by comparing data between sessions or even within a single session.

“Postural control, dynamic balance, and transitional gait performance are critical components to quantify in clinical practice, because the literature indicates more falls occur during transitional movements than straight-line walking,” said Rowling. “The PKMAS PGS addresses transitional movements in a single test, is easy to administer   (+/- 1 minute), and requires no editing. Gait efficiency, symmetry, speed, and balance measures are reported immediately upon saving the trial.”

The GVI is a conglomerate measure derived from spatiotemporal parameters, and was developed to improve objective quantification of gait variability. Previous publications demonstrate validity for use in both pediatric and adult populations. New papers using the GVI are currently in press, and its clinical utility is expected to increase in the near future.

ProtoKinetics’ new education division, the Gait and Balance Academy (GaBA; gaitandbalanceacademy.com), is a web portal that offers clear and objective information about gait and balance. Gouelle, GaBA’s executive director, is facilitating the brainstorming and collaboration with internationally recognized experts to offer access to classical educational resources and new innovative content. These materials, including pictures, presentations and videos, are based on validated scientific protocols and are updated regularly.

“Validation and verification are vitally important steps in our development and production processes,” stressed Rowling. “ZenoMetrics uses quality manufacturing practices, including ISO 13485, FDA compliant processes, and IEC 62304 standards for the software life cycle. Our products can be easily implemented to meet 21CFR11 compliancy.”

“ProtoKinetics values our clients’ time and money; we are extremely confident that our elegant, easy to-use, and cost-effective gait assessment solution, coupled with our best-in class support team, will continue to enable our customers to meet or exceed their goals,” said Rowling.

Article sponsored by ProtoKinetics.

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