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OVERVIEW

Research at Oxford on Analysis of Motion (ROAM) is based at the Oxford Gait Laboratory of the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Headington Oxford and includes activities within the Botnar Research Centre. It incorporates staff from the clinical team, as well as members of the University of Oxford including Engineering Science and the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Science (NDORMS). 
The overall aim of the group is to cover basic science, as well as applied clinical research in the area of human gait and movement analysis

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Current Research Themes 

The four main themes of our current research are: 

  1. Cerebral Palsy – a focus on orthopaedic treatment, management and assessment 

  2. Foot and Ankle - foot and ankle biomechanics, treatment and assessment 

  3. Technical - technical development of biomechanical modelling and reporting methods 

  4. Upper Limb – development and application of tools for measuring upper limb motion 

These themes overlap and complement each other.   

 

Cerebral Palsy Theme

The clinical service provided by the Oxford Gait Laboratory has historically been dominated by assessing children with cerebral palsy.  Treating these children with single-stage, multi-level surgery is now well established, with accepted improvements in walking patterns.  However, this may come at the cost of reduction in muscle strength and function.  The aim of our research in this area is to investigate the extent and reasons for this deficit, and to establish methods for minimising strength and function loss.  The effect of multi-level surgery on quality of life and patient reported outcome measures are also being investigated. 

 

Foot and Ankle Theme 

Research in this area is aimed at modelling the foot more accurately, in order to facilitate understanding of the function of the foot during gait.  This covers both unimpaired function, as well as those with foot deformity, and also injury to the foot and ankle.  Particular pathologies of interest include clubfoot, flexible flat foot, foot deformity resulting from cerebral palsy, and idiopathic toe walkers.  Current research focuses on the relationship between the degree of physical deformity, and the impact on quality of life, in order to improve treatment decision making. 

 

ROAM foot image

 

Technical Theme 

Technical development of biomechanical modelling and reporting methods 

In order to improve assessment of movement and gait, research efforts have focussed on developing and customising underlying biomechanical models.   This has included the development of methods to determine hip joint centre locations and advances in foot modelling.  We are investigating ways of improving consistency of interpretation of gait data, by standardising identification of abnormality and incorporating novel methods to visualise complex data. 

 

Upper Limb Theme  

We are aiming to develop and establish the accuracy and reliability of a useful model for the upper body – including trunk and upper limbs.  In the first instance, this will be applied to children with Hemiplegia to assess the outcomes of upper limb surgery.   In the longer term, the goal is to quantify the range of motion required by the dominant and non-dominant limbs, in order to perform everyday tasks.  This information will be used to establish targets for treatment of the upper limbs in cerebral palsy.

 

HISTORY

The Oxford Gait Laboratory has been running a clinical service since 1996 and with its association with the University of Oxford has developed research interests with both clinical and technical themes.  Previous research has led to the development of the Oxford Foot Model, a biomechanical model for the study of foot motion during walking. This has been adopted internationally by researchers, clinicians and the motion analysis industry as the standard tool for analysis of foot motion in children and adults.  

The 'keyhole' or 'minimally-invasive' technique in performing both bony and soft tissue procedures as part of multi-level surgery in children with cerebral palsy has been developed through research at the Oxford Gait Laboratory.  It involves surgical techniques which are used in other conditions in children but have not previously been used in the context of surgery in cerebral palsy. It causes less trauma and scarring to the muscles and is quicker to perform compared to open, conventional techniques.  Children are able to mobilise immediately following surgery and improvements in walking ability have been shown to be at least as good as with conventional multi-level surgery.

 

Gait Lab Team

Publications

See a list of our publications

Related research themes