Gait is a person's manner of walking. Humans have bipedal walking pattern i.e. walking on rear 2 limbs.
Phases of gait·
- Stance Phase
- Initial Contact (Heel Strike)
- Loading Response (Foot Flat)
- Mid Stance
- Toe Off (Pre Swing)
- Swing Phase
- Initial Swing
- Mid Swing
- Terminal Swing
- Single Support: In single support only one foot is in contact with the ground.
- Double Support: In double support both feet are in contact with the ground.
Abnormal gait or a walking abnormality is when a person is unable to walk in the usual way. Walking needs coordination of many systems, such as strength, coordination, and sensation which work together to allow a person to walk.
Orthopedic corrective treatments may also manifest into gait abnormality, such as lower extremity amputation, post-fracture and arthroplasty (joint replacement).
Persons suffering from peripheral neuropathy experience numbness and tingling in their hands and feet. This can cause ambulation impairment as climbing stairs or maintaining balance.
Types of abnormal gait
- Spastic gait
Person drags his or her feet while walking.
- Gluteus medius gait
- Quadriceps (hand to knee) gait
Person locks his or her knee with hands while walking.
- Scissors gait
- Foot drop gait
- Genu recurvetum gait
- Paddling gait
Person moves from side to side when walking·
- Propulsive gait
A person walks with his or her head and neck pushed forward.
- Hemiplegic gait
- Parkinson’s diseases gait
- Cerebellar gait
Person stands with a wide stance and tends to fall towards the affected side while walking. While standing still, their trunk tends to sway.
- Cerebral palsy gait
Person or child walks almost on a tip toe and have extensive spasm of lower limb muscles (especially hip adductors).
- Ataxic gait
- Neurological causes
-Cerebellar / sensory ataxia
-diseases/ inflammation of muscle or tendon
-Limb length discrepancy
- Joint muscular limitation
How do we assess your gait?
Your physiotherapist will assess your gait (walking) pattern by observing length of step, stride length, speed of walking, cadence, trunk rotations, upper body / limb movements, etc.
Some imaging modes like X-rays & MRIs also help in diagnosing cause of abnormal gait.
Some doctors / physiotherapists use body movement sensors which digitally record pattern of limb movements. This method gives precise picture of faulty gait pattern.
Treatment and management
A person with an abnormal gait may develop additional aches and pains associated with their walking pattern. Some causes of an abnormal gait are short-term and easy to treat, while others can last a lifetime.
Physical therapy helps return the gait to normal.
Treatment & Management of gait abnormalities are explain in detail in the next article.