According to ProtoKinetics co-founder Michael Rowling intensive patient evaluation and gait analysis are essential for advanced orthotic design. Rowling and Youan Chang, former management employees of CIR Systems Inc., acquired the GAITRite M_Sqr technology from CIR Systems and formed ProtoKinetics in April 2012. Their objective: to develop, distribute, and support the most advanced gait measurement equipment available to the marketplace.
The new company is “very excited to meet the industry’s expectations by offering sought-after new measurements, durable hardware and new synchronization techniques,” said Rowling.
Rowling has dedicated more than 20 years of his career to helping researchers and clinicians define and develop measurement tools with the rigorous specifications they require to do their jobs. Chang, a leading innovator in the world of advanced mathematics, statistics and signal processing, is well‐known for his creation of the celebrated Datapac Software package for signal analysis. Kristen Larsen, with extensive experience in physiological data acquisition, recently joined ProtoKinetics as Director of Education and Service.
“We created ProtoKinetics to push the current technology on the market to the next level and to provide essential tools for clinicians,” Rowling said. “ProtoKinetics’ quality products, combined with our company’s vision, customer loyalty, dedication to healthcare and market experience will clearly differentiate our novel product‐line in this ever‐growing world of measurement devices.”
The company’s current customer base is comprised of industry professionals who require movement analysis tools for their research or clinical practices. “ProtoKinetics customers respect the company’s ability to analyze and adapt its product line to meet society’s current healthcare needs and provide them with a viable long-term solution,” said Rowling.
ProtoKinetics’ movement analysis systems incorporate pressure sensing hardware with the innovative user‐friendly software required for human performance research and clinical evaluations. In this rapidly-changing world of functional medical devices, where even software has been classified as a medical device by regulators and industry standards organizations, ProtoKinetics utilizes quality manufacturing practices with ISO 13485 for Medical Devices Certification, FDA requirements and IEC 62304 Medical Device standards for the software life cycle. “Validation and verification are vitally important steps in our development and production processes” stressed Rowling.
The premiere ProtoKinetics package includes a Zeno Walkway, a computer with
ProtoKinetics Movement Analysis Software (PKMAS), a video camera to synchronize video and footfalls, and an interface for marking events. The Zeno Walkway (available in 2‐ and 4‐foot widths and 8‐ to 26‐foot lengths) is manufactured by Zenometrics, which also makes the GAITRite
Walkway. The Zeno Walkway is unique to the current market as it contains a 16‐level pressure sensing pad and covers its circuitry beneath a top layer of customized carpet or linoleum with a
variety of patterns to meet each facility’s aesthetics. Also, the Zeno walkway’s low‐profile housing reduces sensor damage, prevents curling of the edges and facilitates a smooth transition onto the carpet. This new movement analysis setup allows users to assess temporal and spatial parameters for a wide‐variety of static and dynamic tasks.
“One of our goals is to yield a product with optimal footfall identification and output parameters across the array of nontraditional gait, turning, and standing studies,” Rowling said. “The combination of the PKMAS software’s usability and functionality, with the Zeno Walkway, will provide a system for assessment of real‐world movements that cannot be conducted cost‐effectively on existing balance, gait or pressure/force plate systems.”
Variables that can be analyzed using the PKMAS software include velocity, cadence, step length, instantaneous center of pressure (COP), step time, and toe‐in and toe‐out angle. The program adds an essential measure to gait assessments—called the center of mass estimated (COMe)—to quantify the body as a whole and compare how its changes are reflected in the COP measures. The COP‐COMe distance measurement provides valuable insight into the movement of the body as it relates to foot pressure, Rowling said. And it can be used to differentiate abnormal gait patterns from patterns without anomalies. The PKMAS software also incorporates the left/right ratio into the statistical output measures. This value adds further meaning to the assessment of the entire gait cycle, as it reveals the overall symmetry of patients’ gait measures.
ProtoKinetics also offers a walking aid to promote patient independence. The Mobilaser provides a visual cue during gait through its 635‐nm laser, and can be attached to any walker or cane to deliver a red laser line mimicking the distance of the patient’s typical stride. This technology helps to eliminate shuffling and freezing of gait. This previously unavailable device, paired with a gait analysis system, can be used to quantify patient progress.
ProtoKinetics delivers best-in-class equipment that combines the speed and simplicity necessary for clinical practice with the quantitative, reproducible data necessary for research. The Zeno Walkway can be used in outpatient and inpatient settings as an economic, reliable, and valid method for easily obtaining objective measures. ProtoKinetics precisely measures compensatory mechanisms, inconsistencies, or asymmetries, and demonstrates quantitatively that lower extremity strengthening, bracing, or gait training impacts patients’ functional outcomes.
“ProtoKinetics values our clients’ time,” states Rowling. “And we are extremely confident that our elegant interface and one‐click output measures will promote effective results.”
Stephanie Zultanky is a freelance writer in the New York City area.