Gait is the way that we walk, including the rhythm, speed and style of our steps. It’s a crucial aspect of mobility that is often overlooked. Home care leaders know firsthand the importance of understanding residents’ abilities to move around safely and comfortably. Gait analysis is a valuable tool that can help tailor care plans to residents’ specific needs, ultimately enhancing their quality of life.

The critical lens of gait in senior health

Gait is a window into our health, and can offer a noninvasive glimpse into the functional mobility and potential vulnerabilities of our seniors. This analysis goes beyond mere observation, leveraging technology to measure parameters like speed, step length and symmetry to detect deviations that might signal underlying health issues.

In home care settings, physical therapists and healthcare providers harness gait analysis to unveil signs of muscle weakness, range of motion restrictions, balance disorders and even the early onset of neurological conditions. Notably, gait is a key indicator of an increased risk of falls — a major concern in senior health — which is why comprehensive gait assessments are necessary in routine care.

Gait: A window into health

From observing how weight shifts from one leg to the other to examining the complex interplay among the nervous, musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory systems, gait analysis is a multifaceted assessment. It is not just about the steps one takes but how those steps are taken — each aspect offering clues to a person’s overall well-being. This detailed examination can uncover potential early warning signs of falls and conditions such Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other diseases, thereby enabling early and crucial interventions. The way we walk is a mirror reflecting our health and functionality, providing key insights into our functional mobility and potential for a longer, healthier life.

Applying gait analysis in senior care

In the realm of senior healthcare, gait analysis emerges as a critical noninvasive tool. By analyzing walking patterns, such as speed and step length, therapists and care providers can identify deviations indicating underlying health issues. This is especially relevant in home-term care settings, where gait analysis can pinpoint muscle weakness, balance disorders and the early signs of neurological conditions. Importantly, it acts as a vital indicator for fall risk, underscoring the necessity of integrating gait assessments into routine evaluations to enhance senior safety and well-being.

The underappreciated significance of gait

Despite its proven value, often likened to a “sixth vital sign,” gait’s potential in healthcare is not fully leveraged. Research highlights its predictive power regarding critical health outcomes. For instance, studies have linked gait speed and leg muscle strength to the risk of falls and disability in later life. Yet its application extends beyond seniors to benefit a wide array of individuals, including those with disabilities, postoperative patients, prosthetic patients and athletes in recovery. Objective gait analysis facilitates early detection of mobility issues, allowing for tailored interventions to prevent falls and maintain independence.

Technological advancements broadening access

As technology and healthcare continue to evolve, integrating gait analysis into regular patient assessments exemplifies our dedication to improving senior care. For instance, the use of smartphone motion sensors has extended gait analysis from clinical settings to the everyday lives of seniors. This innovation enables continuous, objective remote monitoring of gait for a smartphone, offering a comprehensive view of a senior’s mobility and allowing for more personalized and preventive care approaches. This transition not only enhances care delivery in long-term care facilities but also empowers seniors and their families at home with actionable insights into their health.


With the strains on the home care industry, there is growing recognition that traditional approaches to care delivery no longer suffice. Embracing innovative technologies necessarily improves care delivery for providers, nurses and patients alike. By integrating new approaches, home care becomes more efficient, accurate and overall more positive for everyone involved.

Gait analysis is a big part of this. Embracing gait analysis as a cornerstone of senior care not only advances our understanding of individual provider needs but also takes a step closer to precision medicine and value-based care. By tailoring healthcare to the unique gait patterns and needs of each senior, we pave the way for highly personalized and meaningful interventions, optimizing resource use while improving patient outcomes. This strategic integration preludes a future where healthcare shifts from reactive to proactive, focusing on delivering timely, tailored care and ultimately enhancing the quality of life for our aging population.

Tomer Shussman is co-founder and CEO of OneStep.