September 2015

ASU installs $500K virtual reality gait lab

Alabama State University’s (ASU) Biomechanics and Motor Control Laboratory in Montgomery installed in August an advanced gait analysis device that places patients in virtual reality simulations.

GRAIL, or the Gait Realtime Interactive Analysis Lab, looks like a cross between a huge video game and a sound stage, according to an ASU release. It consists of a wide treadmill surrounded by a semicircular projection screen and overhead cameras.

Seven linked computers run the system, synching all the components so the patient’s view of the environment on the screen (eg, a rope bridge swaying in the wind), matches the speed, pitch, and sway of the treadmill belt.

The US Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, MD, awarded ASU’s lab a $500,000 grant for the device, designed by the Amsterdam-based Dutch company Motek Medical B.V. It is one of only six in North America.

ASU’s lab, led by Lee Childers, PhD, MSPO, CP, assistant professor of prosthetics and orthotics, is focused on answering three primary questions: how people with amputations or neurological injuries use their remaining motor system to use O&P devices; how to improve running performance while minimizing the risk of injury; and how the human nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems interact to solve Bernstein’s problem of motor redundancy.

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