Early diagnosis of movement disorders

  Early diagnosis of movement disorder: There is a little baby lying on its back in the picture. On the back of the hands and  the top of feet there are small sensors. These sensors record the spontaneous movements of the baby’s limbs and allow anomalies i Copyright: © RPE



Catherine Dißelhorst-Klug

Professor of Rehabilitation and Prevention Engineering


+49 241 80-87011



An early diagnosis of a developing motor dysfunction in premature or full-term babies is presently based on a purely visual and subjective assessment by the attending pediatrician. As such, diagnosis principally involves the observation of the spontaneous motor activity and is dependent on the degree of experience of the pediatrician. In hectic, daily, clinical practice this is not an easy undertaking.

Thus the Department of Rehabilitation and Prevention Engineering has developed a non-invasive procedure which supports the objective and quantitative evaluation of the spontaneous motor activity of babies and can be easily integrated into the daily routine of the clinical practice.

  Right: Trajectory of the foot of an helthy volunteer; Left: Trajectory of the foot of a baby with movement disorders

Presently, lightweight accelerometers, approximately 1.0 g, are used to record the spontaneous movements. These devices were attached to the back of the hands and on the top of the foot while the baby was lying in a supine position. Measurement data was collected for two minute intervals and these signals were finally analyzed using a pattern recognition program.

The non-invasive measurement procedure represents a crucial step towards the objective and easy-to-use computer-based movement analysis of newborns. By these means it is possible to recognize circa 90 percent of all movement dysfunctions early and to reduce damaging consequences through the incorporation of focused therapeutic measures.