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NEWS | Aug. 17, 2006

Gait analysis system comes online at the HAWC

By Airman 1st Class Sam Hymas 437 AW Public Affairs

The 437th Medical Group Health and Wellness Center has a new tool to help Airmen get in shape and stay there: a gait analysis system. 

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the HAWC Tuesday and was attended by Col. Steven Harrison, 437th Airlift Wing vice commander, and group and squadron commanders. 

Just after the ceremony Col. Donnalee Sykes, 437th Medical Group commander, was the first to receive a gait analysis. 

Gait analysis is the process of assessing and interpreting human locomotion - or the forward progression of the human body, said Laura Markuly, HAWC exercise physiologist. 

"It gives us base line information for injury prediction, prehabilitation programming, pre- and post-surgery and rehabilitation programming, said Miss Markuly "We will also use this as a comparative analysis over time to validate that our exercise prescriptions are doing the job." 

Airmen receiving a gait analysis will walk and run on a treadmill while their lower body is being videotaped from the side and the back. Then the video is played back in slow motion and the exercise physiologists at the HAWC can evaluate the gait. 

"We look for strike patterns and determine the shoe that would work best for the runner," said 

Jason Ham, HAWC exercise physiologist. "We also will do a very comprehensive evaluation for members that are experiencing acute or chronic fitness-related injuries.  These types of appointments are referred by primary care managers as a medical consult." 

Key elements to the gait analysis are lower limb function, back and postural position, arm swing and balance. Gait analysis will be beneficial to everyone for injury prevention, improving technique, choosing the correct shoe or understanding their own biomechanical make up, said Miss Markuly. 

"Our main focus is prevention of running and fitness-related injuries as well as being a resource for individuals who are experiencing running and fitness difficulties," said Mr. Ham. 

Individuals coming to the HAWC Fit to Fight Performance Center for an analysis should expect a 30 minute appointment.  Most walk-in appointments will undergo a simple shoe evaluation which consists of walking and running on the treadmill barefoot and with shoes.  

Those referred for a gait analysis by their PCM can schedule appointments from 8 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays and walk-in appointments will be the first and third Fridays of the month. For more information, contact the HAWC at 963-4007.