Dr. Stephanie Wakeman On How Gait Analysis Can Help Prevent Injury - Exclusive

Your gait, which refers to the way you walk, can have a profound impact on the overall health of your body. According to physical therapist Dr. Stephanie Wakeman, inconsistencies in your gait can lead to injuries like strains and sprains and put you at higher risk for falls that can lead to serious injuries.

Most of us probably don't think about how we're walking — we just do it. So how can you find out if your gait puts you at risk for injuries? Dr. Wakeman suggests a process called gait analysis. For decades, gait analysis involved having a trained physical therapist watch you walk on a treadmill, sometimes wearing sensors to track your movements. But new technologies now allow for gait analysis anywhere, anytime, as long as you have a smartphone.

In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, Dr. Wakeman explained how everyone can benefit from gait analysis and how the OneStep app makes this process easy and accessible.

Benefits of gait analysis

Dr. Stephanie Wakeman said that analyzing a person's gait reveals important information about muscle weaknesses, inconsistencies in weight distribution, and misalignments throughout the body.

"When we look at specific parameters or values of the walking cycle over time, we can determine if you are favoring one leg over the other, or if you have inconsistencies in your step," she explained.

These small issues with a person's gait can become a big problem because they put strain on the wrong muscles, causing other muscles to overcompensate. After long enough, this can lead to overuse injuries. A physical therapist can take the information gleaned from a gait analysis and come up with exercises that help their patients correct misalignments, shift weight distribution, and build muscle. All these modifications help them walk using the right posture, muscles, weight distribution, and stride length. Correcting these issues also helps prevent falls, which often result from walking improperly.

How OneStep's gait analysis works

The OneStep app is a virtual physical therapy app that connects patients with licensed physical therapists who can help them with all sorts of issues. The app can also be used to gather information about a person's posture, flexibility, movement, and gait using traditional physical therapy tests like the sit-to-stand test, the timed up-and-go test, and gait analysis. And all you have to do is carry your phone in your pocket.

"OneStep's technology uses sensors in the smartphone to analyze gait," Dr. Stephanie Wakeman explained. "As you walk with the phone in your pocket, the phone moves, and those motions are mathematically translated into specific motions of the gait cycle. A trained physical therapist then analyzes these parameters and makes inferences about the stability and consistency of your walking pattern."

Once one of the OneStep physical therapists analyzes the results of your physical therapy tests, they use that information to create and update your physical therapy program. You repeat the gait analysis on a regular basis so you and your physical therapist can track your progress. After each analysis, the app also provides some quick tips for adjusting your gait – like adjusting the space between your feet — so you can make immediate changes.

To download the OneStep app, please visit the Android or Apple app stores.