According to ProtoKinetics cofounder Michael Rowling, gait analysis is essential for advanced orthotic and prosthetic design, evaluation of gait anomalies, and tracking of patient progress. Rowling and Youan Chang, former management employees of CIR Systems Inc, acquired the GAITRiteTM 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 on the market.
Rowling said the company is “very excited to meet the industry’s expectations by offering sought-after new measurements, durable hardware, and new synchronization techniques.”
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 and curriculum development, is ProtoKinetics’ 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 company’s vision, customer loyalty, dedication to healthcare, and market experience, clearly differentiate our novel product line in this ever‐growing world of measurement devices.”
Industry professionals who require movement analysis tools for their research or clinical practices are the company’s current customer base. “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 (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 vital 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-, 3-, and 4-foot widths and 8- to 32-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 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 PKMAS software’s usability and functionality with the Zeno Walkway provides a system to assess real-world movements that cannot be conducted cost‐effectively on existing balance, gait, or pressure/force plate systems.”
PKMAS software collects multiple passes on the Zeno Walkway for an unlimited collection period. Walk trials can be started when the patient is standing on the mat or in flight, enabling assessment of gait initiation, running, and jumping. The PKMAS software can measure 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 movement of the body and compare how its changes are reflected in the COP measures. The COP‐COMe distance measurement provides valuable insight into the movements of the body as they relate to foot pressure, and it can be used to differentiate abnormal gait patterns from patterns without anomalies. The software also provides the COP data for individual footfalls through gait cycle phases, the footfalls’ relative pressures, and the left-to-right ratio of 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 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,” said Rowling, and we are confident that
our elegant interface and one‐click output measures will continue to promote effective results.”
Article sponsored by ProtoKinetics