Plans Under Way to Launch Pediatric Motion Analysis Lab

Fluid, coordinated upper extremity motion is something that most people take for granted. You may reach for a pen, twist a cap off, and start writing without giving it a second thought. In children with a diverse range of neuromuscular conditions it takes much more effort to do something as simple as grasping and releasing an object.

A recent KiDS of NYU Langone grant of $30,000 was awarded to the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine as seed money to fund the development of a comprehensive pediatric upper extremity motion analysis program that will research the best therapies to help children with motion conditions. The program will be a collaborative effort between the two departments and is being spearheaded by Center for Children faculty member Alice Chu, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery, and Preeti Raghavan, MD, assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine and director of Rusk Rehabilitation’s Motor Recovery Lab.

Dr. Raghavan has already established an upper extremity motion analysis laboratory at Rusk geared to the study of adult patients with motion conditions. This lab is equipped with most of the necessary equipment to answer critical clinical questions on pediatric motion but it is currently focused on adult conditions. Since the infrastructure for research into motion analysis already exists, including electromyography, video analysis, and motion sensors, the grant will allow for modifications to facilitate pediatric motion analysis. Some essential tools will be needed, such as pediatric-sized gloves and sensors for measuring children, as well as pediatric staff to gather and analyze data. This area of study is of critical importance to patients with cerebral palsy, arthrogryposis, brachial plexus birth palsy, and other neuromuscular conditions.

A handful of pediatric motion analysis laboratories do exist nationwide but most are focused on lower extremity function. Although many surgical and nonsurgical interventions have been explored with the goal of improving fluidity and spontaneity in children with various disorders, almost none have been proven as definitively beneficial. This is likely due to the scarcity of basic science research in this area. A new research lab focused on pediatric upper extremity function will pave the way for many more academic publications in this field. Most importantly, it may lead to new innovations for improving hand function in children who face a lifetime of great disability.