New device deciphers the secrets of your step

Your walk holds clues to your health, so an Israeli company introduces a quick and inexpensive system of gait analysis

Everyone’s gotta walk to the beat of their own drum — and that walk can tell doctors a great deal about the state of their health. Many orthopedic and sports-related disorders, and even neurological conditions such as diabetic neuropathy, are manifested by changes in gait patterns: by analyzing a patient’s gait, doctors can determine the most effective course of treatment. And with a new device made by Israeli start-up SensoGo, medical gait analysis can be done automatically, efficiently, and much more quickly than before.

Currently, such analysis is done using X-rays and video cameras and by observing the patient in action, but that method doesn’t provide the most accurate results. To boot, it requires several examinations and X-ray sessions — all of which take time and cost money, said Tal Anker, CEO of SensoGo. “Our system uses an automatic analysis device that a patient straps to his leg, which records and uploads data about factors such as the patient’s gait, speed, and style of walking. The information is not only accurate, but lets doctors get the necessary data to diagnose a patient much more quickly and efficiently.”

Gait analysis is, as would be expected, crucial in assessing the effectiveness of therapy for patients who have torn ligaments, knee injuries, osteoarthritis, and other orthopedic-related problems. And the way you walk can tell your doctor about all sorts of other problems, explained Anker, such as whether you’re a candidate for Alzheimer’s disease, or whether you suffer from neurological issues or heart problems. “Doctors are coming to rely on gait analysis as an indicator for many ailments,” he said, “and SensoGo will, I believe, advance the use of gait analysis even further.”

The device consists of matchbox-sized sensors that measure 3-D acceleration, 3-D rotational velocity, and absolute direction of movement. The system is strapped to a patient’s leg, and measures data as he makes his way through the day. The information is stored in the device and, when the product comes into range of a wifi server, the data gets uploaded to the SensoGo Analysis Server. The data are crunched, and the server automatically produces a report based on important gait parameters. And the analysis gets sent to the doctor.

As such, said Anker, SensoGo is not only pioneering a better way to evaluate orthopedic patients, but it’s also leading the way in a new method of delivering medical data to doctors, which he calls “Analysis as a Service.” In these days of sky-high medical bills, insurance companies and governments are looking at every possible way to cut costs — and that includes capital outlays up front.

“SensoGo is inexpensive to install, and the analysis is done on a pay-as-you-go basis,” continued Anker. “It’s an attractive model today, and a way for doctors to save money by outsourcing the analysis, instead of maintaining a lab to do so on-site.” Gait lab equipment used today — cameras, software ($100,000), and gait mats ($30,000) — is typically found at larger medical centers. But with SensoGo, Anker claims, even doctors with small practices will be able to use gait analysis at a reasonable price.

SensoGo, currently a member of the Misgav-based Mofet B’Yehuda Venture Accelerator (a member of the Trendlines Group), says its system is ready to go, and Anker expects to get CE and FDA approval in the coming months. “The system was designed for doctors’ offices and medical clinics, but our method of using sensors and uploading data for analysis could be used for many other purposes, using the same analysis as a service method,” Anker said. “This could help doctors, patients, and insurance companies save lots of money in many different areas.”

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