By Michael Haederle

Moving Generosity

New Mexico Elks Association Donates $50,000 to UNM Carrie Tingley Hospital Gait Lab

When UNM Carrie Tingley Hospital opened its gait and motion analysis lab last year, it was a major advancement for New Mexico children living with cerebral palsy, scoliosis and other musculoskeletal disorders.

The computerized lab uses special cameras and sensors to provide real-time 3-D motion analysis, which is correlated with data from force plates in the floor that measure pressure placed on the ground while walking and electromyography to record muscle firing patterns.

Now, a generous $50,000 gift from the New Mexico Elks Association will enable the lab to purchase a device that measures a patient's oxygen consumption during testing, putting it on par with similar labs in Arizona and Colorado.

"The Elks donation is going to be so helpful in making sure the lab is state of the art," says executive director Doris Tinagero, DNP, RN.

"Maximizing each child's independence and functional ability is the ultimate goal of a gait and motion analysis," she adds. "This additional technology will provide an enhanced evaluation that is the standard of care across the country for children with cerebral palsy."

A person's oxygen usage reflects how efficiently their muscles are working. The new sensor technology will provide doctors and therapists with additional critical information about a patient's energy expenditure while walking, and help to gauge the need for and effectiveness of treatment, Tinagero explains.

Until recently, UNM doctors had to send their patients and their families to gait labs in Phoenix or Denver for such testing - an expensive proposition for those with limited incomes, she says.

That's why the Elks donation "is a huge blessing," Tinagero says. "Families don't have to split up. We've protected the resiliency of families by keeping them here in New Mexico."

And equipping Carrie Tingley with the same high level of technology as big-city children's hospitals provides an additional incentive for pediatric orthopedic specialists who might consider relocating to New Mexico to practice, she says.

The gift resulted from outreach efforts by Anndee Wright Brown, senior director of development at the UNM Foundation, the university's fundraising arm. The Elks had already made cerebral palsy a primary focus of their philanthropic giving, Tinagero says.

The new equipment is expected to be purchased and installed by later this year, she says.

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