Movie technology helps knee replacement patients

FISHERS, Ind.-- The goal for Dr. Lucian Warth, an Orthopedic Surgeon with IU Health Hip and Knee Center, is for every one of his knee replacement patients to have a great result. He’s doing that with the new gait lab, the latest comprehensive way of studying a patients way or style of walking.

IU Health’s Gait Lab, located at the Hip and Knee Center in Fishers, consists of a treadmill, a Polaris camera and CGI sensors. The sensors are the same used in movies to capture motion. CGI or computer generated imagery, in this case will show Dr. Warth how his patient’s knee moves when he walks.

“If we can understand how your knee moves in space and we can match that back up more precisely after surgery, the concept is you should feel like the knee we put in is more natural and less mechanical,” said Dr. Warth.

The patient attaches the sensors on his or her leg and then simply walks on a treadmill. A nearby Polaris camera captures the motion. Dr. Warth gets a clear picture of that person’s gait pattern. It turns out we all walk in different ways. If you are bow legged or knock kneed, you have a different gait.

“So there are three essential pheotypes, types of ways people walk. For the last 40 years we’ve been doing a really good job putting in knee replacements. But we’ve essentially been aiming for dead center. The issue is not everyone has a natural dead center knee,” said Dr. Warth.

By studying a person’s gait before knee replacement surgery, Dr. Warth can adjust just how a new knee should be lined up. So it feels natural and normal after surgery.

“When we cut open your natural god given knee, we take that out and essentially put in car parts. As our car parts have improved, we have the opportunity with our technology to try and understand how to match back up your knee with the knee we’re putting in,” said Dr. Warth.

And that makes for a happier patient and a more successful outcome.

For more on the gait lab, click here.

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