A slow stroll on the beach: A dream day for most of us. It's christian magana's dream -- period. He's one of 800-thousand people in the U.S. battling Cerebral Palsy.
Four months ago, Christian had leg surgery. And a computer, an electric eye, and a rolling camera told doctors how to help him.
Dr. Douglas Barnes works in the motion analysis lab at Shriners Hospital for children. As a patient treads these floor plates, cameras track their movements in 3D. Doctors measure hip, knee and ankle motion then decide which treatments are necessary.
A red line shows a patient's pre-surgery knee motion. The green line: Normal movement. Post-surgery recap shows how drastically the patient's movement has been corrected. Surgery helps place more weight on more of the foot. Dr. Barnes says a surgery without these tools could be risky.
After surgery, a camera unit -- posted seven feet high -- tracks each patient as if it was stationed on their hip -- showing kids how far they've come. Christian feels the difference with every step.
Engineering students from Rice University designed the high-tech camera. On average, it takes a team of experts more than six hours to create a full motion report for just one patient.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, cerebral palsy (CP) refers to any number of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood which permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination but don't worsen over time. CP isn't caused by problems in the muscles or nerves. Instead, it is caused by abnormalities in parts of the brain that control muscle movements. Most children with CP are born with it, although it may not be detected until years later. A small number of children have CP as the result of brain damage, brain infections, head injuries from a motor vehicle accident, a fall, or child abuse.
Symptoms of CP typically appear before age 3. These may include a lack of muscle coordination when performing voluntary movements; stiff or tight muscles and exaggerated reflexes; walking with one foot or leg dragging; walking on the toes; a crouched or "scissored" gait; and muscle tone that is either too stiff or too floppy.
There is no cure for CP, but treatments may improve a child's abilities. Typically, the earlier treatment begins, the better the chance children have of overcoming developmental disabilities. Some common treatments might include physical and occupational therapy; speech therapy; medications to control seizures or relax muscle spasms; surgery to correct abnormalities or release tight muscles; braces or other orthotic devices; wheelchairs or walkers; and communication aids such as computers with voice synthesizers.
CP IN 3-D:
Now, some doctors are using 3-D analysis to help identify root causes of motion problems and help shape treatment plans. Doctors evaluate hip, knee and ankle motion then decide what treatments are necessary. Surgery is just one of the treatment options to consider. The technology can highlight the causes of unusual movements, not just the movements themselves. After surgery or treatment, a camera tracks each patient, showing children how they've improved. "The physician can actually pull up the video, show him how he did walk, show him how he is walking, and it really helps in that communication," Steven E. Irby, an engineer at Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston, told Ivanhoe. Shriners Hospital for Children has 13 motion analysis labs, and about 100 more exist in other facilities around the United States.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Jo Ann Zuniga, PR Director
Shriners Hospital for Children
(Information provided by Ivanhoe)
Copyright (c) 2010 The E. W. Scripps Company
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