Animal Gait Analysis

Written by Jared Vincenti
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Gait analysis is a development of kinesiology that allows us to predict and produce the most efficient body motions while walking or running. By looking at footprints, wear patterns on shoes, and video of strides, doctors and specialists can identify any faults in a stride, and correct them. This results in a more comfortable gait for the person in question, which translates to faster and less tiring motion.

Not Just for Humans

While the science of gait analysis was developed for humans, its applications extend into other parts of the animal kingdom. The principles of biology and physics that are used on humans can be applied to animals, but expanded to consider four legs instead of two. However, there are some complications in the switch from biped to quadruped.

The basic problem is that a human has two strides--walk and run. Animals with four legs have four strides, which are usually grouped as walk, trot, canter, and gallop. Which stride an animal is using depends on the speed at which it is going, and gait problems may only be seen in one of the four stride patterns.

Thus, gait analysis for animals takes longer, since there is more data to analyze and more potential complications. However, this is not prohibitive, and many people use gait analysis on their animals. The most common animals to be tested are racing animals such as horses and greyhounds, but if you have a house pet that seems to have trouble walking, it may just be a matter of a simple corrective from gait analysis.


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