The layout of a gait lab's force plates is largely dependent on the stride length of its subjects, as children clearly require closer platform spacing than adults. Some of the most common platform layouts are shown below. The gray platforms indicate the number and position of the minimum platforms for each layout; white platforms show the location of additional recommended platforms. Three- or four-platform installations are generally preferred as they increase the number of foot strikes captured during the patient's gait cycle.
The inline configuration is used in a large number of gait labs as it provides a "corridor" where patients are less tempted to aim their foot strikes, thus changing their gait patterns. Platform spacing can be adjusted for step length variability, patients' age or application (walking, running, sports, etc). This layout may require the use of customized mounting rails and the thru top mounting option to allow for easy plate repositioning.
The staggered configuration is common in the gait community, although it is employed less often than the inline arrangement. It allows for adaptation to different step widths, which is often required when working with elderly patients due to their need for a larger base of support.
Gait initiation, gait termination, and fall prevention have become intensively studied protocols intended to test the effect of a central or peripheral disease on the sensorimotor functions. This configuration is used to record patients' center of pressure (COP) patterns while initiating or terminating gait, as well as reaction times and movements during postural perturbations or secondary tasks.
An inline configuration using large force plates and is ideal for sport activities that involve multiple foot strikes over a long distance, such as running and jumping. The addition of an adjacent platform allows for the study of side-step cutting and activities that involve a large base of support. AMTI engineers can help design a mounting rail arrangement that allows the plates to translate in order to accommodate for different activities and stride lengths.