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What is Forensic Gait Analysis?


John Cleese’s Ministry of Silly Walks is in the annals of comedy for its hilarious mechanics. But the walk can be more revealing than we think.David Blake specialises in sport/gait/walking, pathomechanics, and forensic podiatry. His speciality is gait (walking) analysis. The use of digital video camera equipment is used to analyse gait (walking) clinically for diagnostic purposes.

Here he answers basic questions.

What is gait analysis?
Forensic gait analysis provides anatomical and biomechanical analysis of the gait (walking and body movement of individuals) that are captured on CCTV.

The act of gait (walking) involves most of the body's anatomy, including the upper torso and arms and is not exclusive to the feet and lower limbs. Gait is anatomy, anatomy is gait. In essence walking, skeletally and anatomically, is gait. Biomechanics is a subsection of gait analysis.

The evidence can then be interpreted forensically and the subjects momements then compared to known individuals or patterns of human movement. This has contributed to some suspects admitting their guilt. The use of forensic gait analysis can help illustrate a suspect’s location and time for the purposes of criminal investigations.

“Great Juno, comes; I know her by her gait.”
                                            The Tempest

How is it used in forensic terms?

The adoption of gait analysis in forensic medicine started with the Aalsgaarde Case1 where concordance was found in the gait pattern between suspect and perpetrator with respect to pronounced side-to-side movements of the head and hyper extension in the knee joints.

The widespread use of CCTV (the UK has the most cameras per capita in Europe) evolved in tandem with this power of scientific analysis.

Forensic CCTV footage is core to criminal enquiry in the modern era. Equally, forensic gait analysis has been accepted as being scientific on numerous occasions in English Crown Courts. This has been the case since the turn of the century.

Two years ago in Lancashire, a house burglar was convicted thanks in part to grainy footage captured by a nearby surveillance camera. Although the tape didn’t catch the man’s face, a podiatrist identified him by analysing, frame by frame, his distinctive bow-legged gait.

In my own experience there have been a number of significant cases.

A murderer who said he was unfairly convicted because of the way he walks failed in an Appeal Court bid to clear his name. Elroy Otway was jailed in 2009 for the murder of Mark Daniels, 25, who was shot dead in Wythenshawe in August 2006. My testimony was instrumental in bringing Otway to justice. At London’s Appeal Court, Otway’s legal team argued that I ‘could not be considered an expert’ and that podiatry is ‘not sufficiently recognized or advanced’ as a forensic science to justify its use in court.

How do you combine this with your core work?
I consider it a natural progression and an extension of my medicolegal work, which apart from the negligence side, has included numerous post-operative biomechanical/gait/walking analysis studies.

Typically, these have involved incidents. For example, walking may be analysed to assess requirements for in shoe orthotics, shoe modifications and/or walking aids. So there is a lot in common with the forensic side – it’s all about acute observation and drawing valid conclusions from a sound scientific podiatric footing.

How can you be contacted?
Hyperion welcomes enquiries in gait/walking and general anatomy analysis including instructions for medical negligence, assessment, advice and treatment plans for post industrial or road trafficcollisions.
The first port of call is my new website: www.hyperionforensic.com. Here you can get an immediate feel for my services in medicolegal and forensic podiatry terms. Or you can phone me on 07990 973257

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2. Consulting Rooms, 38 Harborne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3HE

3. St John Street Consulting Rooms, 11 St John Street, Manchester M3 4DW

4. The Consulting Rooms, 5 Davenport Road, Earlsdon, Coventry CV5 6QA

5. Litfield House Medical Centre, 1 Litfield Place, Clifton Down, Bristol BS8 3LS

6. Walsall Chiropractic Health Clinic, 81 Broadway, Walsall WS1 3EZ

7. Nuffield Health Wolverhampton Hospital, Wood Road, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton WV6 8LE

8. The Elms Consulting Rooms, 24 Hall Place Gardens, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1 3SF (near London)

1, Surveillance images from a bank robbery were analyzed and compared with images of a suspect. Based on general bodily features, gait and anthropometric measurements, we were able to conclude that one of the perpetrators showed strong resemblance to the suspect.

Both exhibited a gait characterized by hyperextension of the leg joints, and bodily measurements did not differ by more than 6 mm on average. The latter was
quantified by photogrammetry: i.e., measuring by using images of the perpetrator as captured by surveillance cameras.

Reprints available from: Niels Lynnerup, M.D., Ph.D. Institute of Forensic Medicine, Frederik d. 5, sVej11, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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