Movement Science Laboratory

The Movement Science Laboratory at Scottish Rite for Children is an integral part of the treatment of our patients. The team uses leading-edge technology to evaluate and identify movement to help our doctors make decisions about the best treatment options for the child. 

The Movement Science Lab (MSL), also known as the Gait Lab, has two main focuses: clinical evaluations and research. 

Clinically, our MSL team works directly with our orthopedic doctors to help provide options to determine the best course of treatment for each child. Doctors are provided with a detailed analysis of their patient’s walking ability, including how the joints move, when the muscles are firing and the power generated through their legs. 

The other focus of the Movement Science Lab is research. The research conducted allows the team to better understand and measure how well the treatment plans our doctors provide to our patients improve their function. The lab will see patients before and after treatment in order to measure the effectiveness of the care. The purpose of the research is to compare patient outcomes following different surgical procedures, assess a specific treatment across varying types of patients, define the improvements of the child’s conditions following physical and occupational therapy, and evaluate the effectiveness of various orthoses and prosthetic limb components. The research continues to educate our staff and allows the team to provide the best possible care to each patient.


Scottish Rite for Children is one of the few institutions in the area to have a premier Movement Science Lab. The child will undergo one or more of the following evaluations as part of their Movement Science Laboratory visit.

Clinical Examination: Movement Science Lab staff will evaluate the flexibility and strength of the hip, knee and ankle joints. 

Video Assessment: During the visit, digital photographs and video may be recorded while they stand, walk and/or perform specific movements. These videos are an important part of the Movement Science Lab evaluation as it allows us to document how the child moves. This video helps our staff better understand and correlate all of the other data we collect as part of your child’s visit.

3D Motion Capture: Small reflective markers are placed on the child’s body and special high-speed motion capture cameras record movement in three dimensions while performing certain tasks (walking, running, squatting, etc.). This equipment is the same technology used to make animations, video games and movie special effects. 

Electromyography (EMG): Small sensors will be placed on the child’s leg that measure when the muscles are firing. These sensors only record the muscle activity; they do not provide any muscle stimulation.

Oxygen Consumption: Your child will be asked to wear a small mask over their mouth and nose that measures the air they breathe in and out. While wearing the mask, the child will be able to breathe normally. This test may involve a 5- to 10-minute rest period after the mask is first fit, followed by a 6- to 10-minute walk around the lab “track.” Depending upon the reason for the visit, they may also be asked to walk on our treadmill.

Strength Testing: Your child may have their strength measured using a special machine called a Biodex. Similar to equipment at exercise gyms, the child will push or pull against the machine’s arm to measure the strength of the joint. Typically, the arm is strapped to the leg, below the joint where we want to measure strength. This allows us to measure motion in both directions (flexion and extension) during a single test. Your child will be asked to move the arm as hard as they can through the full range of motion that is set by our staff.

Although the procedure does not hurt, it may seem a little intimidating for a child. To help your child relax, explain in advance that the staff at the Movement Science Lab will be making a video of the way the child’s body moves. We will also use medical tape to secure the markers and EMG sensors to their body during the test, so removing the markers may feel similar to removing a bandage. 

To help the staff see arm and leg movement, the child should wear tight-fitting athletic shorts with an elastic waistband and a tank top/sports bra during the visit to the lab. Please be sure to bring all walking aids that your child uses, such as braces, prosthetic devices, walker or crutches, to the Movement Science Laboratory.

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