According to ProtoKinetics cofounder Michael Rowling, intensive patient evaluation and gait analysis are essential for advanced orthotic and prosthetic design, evaluation of gait, and tracking patient progress in physical therapy.
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 healthcare marketplace.
The company, based in Havertown, PA, “will 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 to helping researchers and clinicians define and develop measurement tools with the rigorous specifications they need. 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, joined ProtoKinetics in 2012 as director of education and service.
“We created ProtoKinetics to push the current technology to the next level and to provide essential tools for clinicians,” Rowling said. “ProtoKinetics’ quality products, combined with our vision, customer loyalty, dedication to healthcare, and market experience clearly differentiate our novel product line in this ever-growing world of measurement devices.”
The company’s customer base are healthcare professionals who require movement analysis tools for their research or clinical practices. “Our ability to analyze and adapt our product line to meet current healthcare needs provides 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 a rapidly changing world of functional medical devices, in which even software has been classified as a medical device by regulators, ProtoKinetics uses quality manufacturing practices, including ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 13485 for Medical Devices Certification, Food and Drug Administration requirements, and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) 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 traditional 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.
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 that is available in a variety of patterns. 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 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. “PKMAS software combined with the Zeno Walkway is an easy-to-use and cost-effective platform to assess real‐world movements and is unlike any existing balance, gait, or pressure/force plate systems.”
PKMAS can collect multiple passes on the Zeno Walkway for an unlimited collection period. Walking trials can be started when the patient is standing on the mat or in midstep, enabling assessment of gait initiation, running, and jumping. PKMAS can analyze a number of variables, including instantaneous center of pressure (COP), step time, and toe‐in and toe‐out angles.
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 body movements as they relate to foot pressure, and can be used to detect abnormal gait patterns. The software also provides COP data for individual footfalls, their relative pressures, and the left-to-right ratio for each gait metric. These values add further meaning to the assessment of the entire gait cycle, as they reveal the overall symmetry of patients’ gait measures.
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 System can be used in outpatient and inpatient settings as an economical, reliable, and valid method for easily obtaining objective measures. ProtoKinetics systems precisely measure compensatory mechanisms, inconsistencies, or asymmetries, and can be used to demonstrate quantitatively that lower extremity strengthening, bracing, or gait training impacts patients’ functional outcomes.
“ProtoKinetics values our clients’ time, and we are extremely confident that our elegant interface and one-click output measures will promote effective results,” said Rowling.