Over the past few years, the applications of video gait analysis (VGA) have greatly increased, causing more and more physicians, podiatrists and physical therapists to recommend VGA for their patients to address underlying issues. Many patients are curious as to what goes into a video gait analysis and what they can expect.
What is VGA?
VGA is just what it sounds like — a gait analysis aided by the use of video. In most cases, a physical therapist will film you running and/or walking on a treadmill from different vantage points. Usually this includes posterior (back), low posterior (lower, targeted at the back of the feet), left and right lateral views and an anterior (front) view. You may be asked to repeat the process wearing different footwear or orthotic inserts in order to help your health care provider determine appropriate changes, if necessary, to your footwear. Using computer software, the clinic staff can slow down or stop at specific parts of the gait cycle to take measurements, mark angles, or make other observations key to diagnosing issues with your gait. Within about a week after your VGA, you and your referring physician will receive a video copy on CD-ROM or DVD along with a report explaining the results. Your physical therapist will personally discuss the results with you, as well as your referring physician for any potential changes in plan of care.
Why might my physician or physical therapist recommend VGA?
Usually a VGA is recommended when you are experiencing recurrent lower extremity injuries when running or walking to determine an underlying cause. Often this includes, but is not limited to, IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, patellar tendinitis, or stress fractures. In other instances, VGA is used to assist in prescribing appropriate footwear or insoles, including over the counter or custom orthotic inserts. In some cases, runners are looking for VGA to assist with performance enhancements and “tweaks” to address their running form. If you are interested in VGA, feel free to discuss it with your physician or physical therapist.
What will VGA tell me?
Video gait analysis is great for helping determine weakness in certain muscle areas or tightness through muscles, tendons and other structures, which often lead to reoccurring pain and injury. VGA is often very helpful if you are concurrently undergoing physical therapy, since you can actually see what your legs and feet are doing while running, and what needs to change to correct any underlying issue. This visual information can allow you to better understand your treatment.
What do I need to bring with me?
Please bring appropriate clothes for running or walking — generally shorts and a t-shirt or tank top work great. Some physical therapists appreciate contrasting colors (dark shorts, light shirts or the reverse) that make the analysis portion easier. Bring your running or walking shoes and socks, as well as any insoles or orthotics you may use in your shoes. If you plan on submitting the VGA to your insurance, please remember your insurance card.
What about insurance? And do I have to have a referral or a prescription for a VGA?
Some insurance companies will cover video gait analysis — you can either call your insurance company directly or ask the clinic staff to call ahead for you. Typically, a prescription from a physician specifically for a VGA is necessary for an insurance company to cover the treatment. If your insurance policy does not cover it, most clinics will allow you to self-pay for the VGA and do not always require a physician prescription. Rates vary between clinics, so it is suggested that you call the clinic to ask the pricing and other information.
This article was written by Lauren Hogan, PT, DPT, ATC from Athletico/Andersonville Clinic.