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Gait Analysis in EB Simplex

Project lead Prof Adrian Heagerty and Deborah Falla
Organisation Centre of Precision Rehabilitation for Spinal Pain, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
Project budget GBP 46,030.30
Start date / Duration 01. Oct 2019 / 12 months
Funder(s) / Co-Funder(s) DEBRA UK
Research area EB genetics, epigenetics & biology, Symptom prevention & relief

Project details

Short lay summary

Walking with sore feet or thickened areas of skin of the feet will always result in the feet not being placed properly on the ground, nor indeed, will the push off and landing of the feet be positioned in the normal way while walking.  In Epidermolysis Bullosa Simplex (EBS), with recurrent blistering and thickening of the skin there is tendency to walk on the sides of the feet to try to avoid sore areas. This will then lead to an abnormal positioning of the ankles, knees and hips which will not be the same on the left and right.  When people walk in this way, therefore, their hips move up and down causing the spine to “snake” and putting unnecessary stress on all the joints from the back downwards.

The researchers are running a pilot study of 20 patients with EBS to analyse the way in which they walk using a computerised room which can plot the positions of the joints, as well as the pressures exerted through the feet during walking in a gait laboratory. This has been arranged with the University of Birmingham in the Department of Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy, where the effects of such feet issues can be measured. Podiatrists from Solihull will also be looking at irregularities in the feet and pressures associated with walking to enable the researchers to develop custom built shoes and insoles to try to correct the unevenness of walking and see whether this improves the abnormalities of movement in the joints.

The team is aiming to optimize support for feet to help correct the posture and walking as much as possible. The researchers have found that there is also some muscle memory from having had problems over many years which will then need to be treated by exercising under the care of Professor Falla, a Professor of Rehabilitation at Birmingham University.  

It is hoped that this research will lead to development of a clinical protocol for gait analysis in EB, leading towards a clinical practice guideline and improved treatment and care for patients with EB that will allow them to maintain mobility throughout their lives.

More on DEBRA UK's website.


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