Walking simulators can now measure your walking efficiency as well as identifying possible underlying health issues.
Your walk style can reveal a good deal of what’s going on inside your body. In fact, we naturally take on a gait and stride that are the most efficient and cause us the least pain. Therefore, the ability to analyze a walk style can help with diagnoses, rehabilitation, and monitoring of a variety of health conditions.
Researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland developed software that can calculate how much energy a person uses. The software measures eight specific metrics.
The software asks the user to input parameters such as walking speed, distance between feet, and how high the person lifts the feet on each step. These numbers are then used to animate an avatar of a human walking. From this avatar, the system, then can measure the energy used on a regular walk, as well as when the avatar is pulled or pushed at different spots. This can simulate carrying a backpack, pushing a lawnmower, or other everyday tasks.
Walking: Medical Applications
The walk simulator offers a large number of potential applications, one of them is medical. It can be used be to select or design a custom prosthetic.
In addition, it can help pinpoint the source of joint pains or other issues that are affecting the walking ability.
Indeed, a study recently published in The Journal of Physiology found that elderly people walk at a slower speed and tire more quickly.
A less active lifestyle worsens the health of elderly people and is directly linked to a lower 10-year survival rate for people at age 75. The walk simulator will help to pinpoint problems areas and suggest corrective rehabilitation programs.