Senator Mark Kirk Releases Gait Analysis and Rehabilitation Walking Program Video

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) outlines the progress of his recovery after suffering from an ischemic stroke in January and expressed his deep gratitude to the people of Illinois for allowing him the time he needs to recover.

Mark Kirk suffered a stroke about 15 weeks ago, had three brain surgeries at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and was transferred Februrary 10, 2012 to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) for post-stroke therapy. He was released from the RIC on Friday, May 4, 2012.

“I suffered a stroke on the 21st of January and thanks to the doctors, nurses and professionals of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the RIC, I’m walking again.”

— Mark Kirk

Senator Mark Kirk posted a YouTube video on his official website on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 that chronicled his rehabilitation since his stroke on January 21, 2012. He demonstrated his ability to speak and walk after suffering a stroke. He is also part of a walking study that studies the biomechanics of his gait. In the “Gait Analysis” Senator Mark Kirk’s body is translated into a stick figure that emphasizes the angular velocity of joints, the relationship of motion of all joints and body movements, and activity of muscles.

Gait analysis is used to assess, plan, and treat individuals with conditions affecting their ability to walk. Gait analysis is also commonly used in sports biomechanics to help athletes run more efficiently and to identify posture-related or movement-related problems in people with knee injuries or other leg or hip injuries.

Gait analysis studies Step length, Stride length, Cadence, Speed​​, Dynamic Base, the Progression Line, Knee Angle, Hip Angle, and Foot Angle.

Muscle activity study during gait analysis is known as Dynamic Electromyography, which detects electric potential generated by muscle cells and reveals levels of skeletal muscle activation and motor unit recruitment of muscles. Motor unit recruitment is defined as the successive activation of the same and additional motor units causing increasing strength of voluntary muscle contraction. In healthy individuals, the brain and central nervous system can increase the strength of muscle contraction by (1) spatial recruitment — increasing the number of active motor units to increase the amount of muscle fibers or muscles firing, and (2) temporal recruitment — increasing the firing rate of individual motor units within a muscle to increase the force or tension of contraction.

The study of gait after a stroke allows more specific diagnosis, which can result in optimal intervention strategies and the possibility of future developments in rehabilitation engineering.