Study aims to capture the 'Essex swagger'

Published: 23 July 2012 at 15:30

New Anglia Ruskin research project will build picture of local walking style

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Scientists at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford are calling on the public to assist them in capturing the “Essex swagger”, which could help provide better treatment for UK patients.

The gait analysis laboratory at Anglia Ruskin’s Postgraduate Medical Institute is an exact replica of the one at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, the leading hospital for orthopaedics in the United States. 

However, because the lab is the first of its kind in the UK, the only database of “normal” gait, or walking style, available to Anglia Ruskin scientists also comes from New York. 

Dr Rajshree Mootanah, Director of the Medical Engineering Research Group at Anglia Ruskin, believes that the people of Essex are likely to have a different gait to New Yorkers, and a research project to establish a local database will allow more accurate testing and analysis of patients, ranging from burns victims to those who have just undergone hip or knee surgery.

“We are hoping that the people of Essex will volunteer their time – and their walking style – to the project,”

said Dr Mootanah.

“When we are working with patients it is important to have a reference database of ‘normal’ gait to compare them to.  The only database we have is of the New York population and we believe there may be slight but still significant differences to the way our local population walks due to the different racial make-up of the two groups.
“We are looking for volunteers, aged 18 or over, who are able to walk without impediment. The volunteers will have the force of their steps measured by special pressure plates embedded in the floor while their gait will be recorded by 3D motion capture, which is similar to the systems used by the CGI departments of Hollywood studios.
“Although people will have small markers attached to the ‘bony’ parts of their body, such as their pelvis, feet, and shoulders, taking part in the study will be totally painless and the biomechanics data gathered will be of great value to our future work.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the study should email rajshree.mootanah@anglia.ac.uk or phone 08451963909 (9am-5pm).