Technical Briefs

A New System for Monitoring Gait Training in Infants With Down Syndrome

[+] Author and Article Information
Sigal Portnoy, Assaf Ohana

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel

Amit Gefen1

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israelgefen@eng.tau.ac.il

Ziva Yizhar

Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel


Corresponding author.

J. Med. Devices 3(2), 024501 (Apr 21, 2009) (4 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3116251 History: Received July 30, 2008; Revised December 17, 2008; Published April 21, 2009

Infants with Down syndrome show an altered pattern of motor development at early childhood. Treadmill-walking training can be used to promote the earlier attainment of motor milestones in infants with locomotion deficiencies but quantitative data on their motor development are limited to gait laboratory studies. Our purpose was to develop, validate, and test a low-cost portable system for detecting infant steps on a treadmill while training. The system includes five infrared distance sensors, which were placed on a motorized treadmill to record the location of the feet of the infant during walking and thus measure his/her step length and cadence. The system was validated using synthetic objects, with a healthy 13-month-old infant. Pilot studies were then conducted in additional five infants with Down syndrome (aged 11–28 months) to determine step length (17.5–22.3 cm) and cadence (0.33–2.16 steps/s) at baseline, as well as at follow-ups 1 month and 3 months after the first trial. Measurements were repeatable per session and agreed with values reported in the literature. These pilot studies indicate the potential utility of the present system in quantitative monitoring of the process of acquisition of initial gait in infants with Down syndrome at the care facility where routine therapy is given.

Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Grahic Jump Location
Figure 1

The trial setting consists of an infant motorized treadmill and five infrared distance sensors lined on one rim of the treadmill. The measurement range covers more than 50% of the moving belt surface, as depicted on the image by the two dashed white lines.

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 2

Scenarios for correct or incorrect detection of a step by the system for a user-chosen threshold level of three simultaneous readings of “1” from the distance sensors. “Case No.” indicates the real world situation, and “system” indicates the automatic detection outcome for each scenario.

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 3

Detection of six steps of a healthy infant (female, aged 13 months) walking on the treadmill. Steps in this session were recounted and verified using video recording of the trial. The user-chosen threshold level for a two-leg support event was three simultaneous readings of “1” from the distance sensors. A new step is said to begin if there are two samples of zero before it and three samples of nonzero ahead.




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