We have performed a gait analysis service for the National Alkaptonuria Centre (NAC) since the summer of 2013 and have been involved in the DevelopAKUre trials since 2014. The service has become a well-oiled machine with patients attending every month to our Movement Function Research Laboratory at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). Patients attend the laboratory for approximately 1.5 hours. In this time, we record relevant information from the patient relating to pains or aches in their lower limbs that might affect the way they walk.
We then apply reflective markers to relevant points on the body from the pelvis down to the feet, which allows our specialised 3D cameras to track and record the movements of the patient. After asking the patient to walk up and down the lab, we are able to process this data to see the position of the pelvis and lower limbs; and measure the forces that are acting on the hips, knees and ankles as they walk. By examining all of the information together we are able to help inform the patient, GP and other relevant medical professionals of the factors that may contribute to current pains, and in some cases, identify joints that may be at risk of future pain and deterioration.
We aim to pre-empt joint damage before it becomes painful to the patient. Professor Gabor Barton leads the gait analysis team at LJMU. He has experience in the theory and practice of gait analysis having previously managed the gait analysis laboratory at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. Collaboration began with Professor Ranganath, the NAC and the AKU Society initially as part of an MSc project with Ms Kimberly Lewin. In spring 2014, this service was taken over by Dr Stephanie King until January 2016 where she left Liverpool for a new role at the University of Hull.
Currently this service is in the capable hands of Ms Hannah Shepherd, also a previous MSc student of LJMU. The involvement of high quality students and early career researchers provide not only a service for patients that can have a direct impact on their treatment pathways and quality of life, but also allow important research questions to be answered to further our knowledge of AKU and the functional impact of this disease.
Our team recently published the first paper in the world reporting the gait changes in patients with AKU. Available here http://goo.gl/SN5IKw. We hope this is just the beginning of a fruitful, informative and impactful collaboration between LJMU, the NAC and the AKU Society; which will lead to better understanding of AKU joint pain and better monitoring for patients.
DevelopAKUre is a series of major international clinical trials, run by a consortium of 12 European partners. It aims to study a potential new drug, called nitisinone, and assess its potential effectiveness in treating the rare disease, alkaptonuria (AKU).
DevelopAKUre is co-funded by a grant from the European Commission. This website is run by a UK patient group, the AKU Society. Learn more about AKU on the AKU Society's What is AKU page.
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