Abnormal Gait or walking abnormalities leads to the inability to walk in a normal or accepted way. This unusual walking pattern may result from injuries, underlying health conditions, or a defect related to the legs and feet.
Walking is a very simple activity; however, it is not as simple as it seems at first glance. Different body systems work together perfectly to allow a person to walk in a usual, normal pattern known as a normal gait. To make a person stand properly on his own two feet, one has to tune all the body systems such as strength, coordination, sensation, or receptivity, to name a few together in a balanced way.
When one or all of these interacting systems stop working smoothly, it can result in abnormal gait or walking abnormality.
Walking problems might be a result of numbness of the leg or injury in one part of the leg, such as the ankle or knees.
They are defined as temporary or long-term conditions, depending on the cause. Severe walking problems need constant physical therapy and intensive medical care.
Abnormal gait or gait abnormality is when the body systems that control the way a person walks either function improperly or do not work.
People walking unusually may have any or all of the following concerns -
In some cases, gait abnormalities fade away on their own. While in some other cases, walking problems continue lifelong. In both cases, physical therapy is essential for the improvement in the gait cycle of the person.
Improper gait and abnormal walking patterns lead to bad posture.
Postural dysfunction or "bad posture" is when the spine is positioned in unnatural or uncommon positions. Strange positions are the curves that eventually strain the joints, vertebrae, and important muscle groups like the shoulder muscles. This prolonged bad posture results in unnecessary tension building upon the core tissue groups. Improper Gait and Bad Posture can severely perturb the quality of life. It can hamper your emotional, physical, and mental growth and development.
Here are the problems caused by Improper Gait and Bad Posture-
Gait refers to the way of walking. An abnormal gait may have a wide range of plausible causes. Abnormal gait is categorically identified into seven types. This distinction is made depending on their symptoms manifested in different people.
Seven gait types are -
Spastic gait meaning a condition wherein a person drags their feet to walk. Spastic Gait condition makes a person appear stiffer than normal when walking.
A person with legs bent inward may have a scissors gait. A person with scissors gait condition may cross their legs, and they might also rub the legs together while walking. The crisscross motion appears like a scissors opening and closing, hence the name.
Steppage gait is a condition wherein the toes of a person point towards the ground while walking. The toes frequently scrape against the floor as the person steps forward.
Owing to the name, a person, while walking, with a waddling gait condition, moves side to side. Waddling includes taking short steps as well as swinging the body.
A propulsive gait condition is wherein a person walks with their head, and the neck is pushed forward. It seems as if the person is deliberately hunched.
In addition to the five types mentioned above, there are many other abnormalities. A person with a limp is also deemed to have an abnormal gait. Just like the other abnormalities, a limp is either temporary or permanent. It may fade away without any medical help.
Ataxia is the phenomenon of abnormal and uncoordinated movements. An unsteady gait or an ataxic gait is when the walking is awkward and clumsy. It appears completely out of order.
The name Festinating Gait owes its origin to the Latin term festinare, which means to hurry. A person with festinating gait takes rapid small steps. This walking pattern is adopted in an attempt to balance the body. This type of gait is shown largely amongst patients who have Parkinson's Disease. Therefore, it is often called Parkinsonian Gait. It is often defined by people with Parkinson's as feeling like being stuck in place when initiating a step or turning and can increase the risk of falling.
Bruises and injuries to the legs or feet may cause an abnormal gait for some time. In more severe cases, the damage may cause permanent abnormalities.
Fractures and bruises may make it difficult for a person to walk properly for a few weeks or months. However, several diseases can attack the nervous system and legs, causing an abnormal gait. The most common causes of abnormal gait are:
Abnormal gait is diagnosed by a medical professional. A doctor will first try to study your gait cycle and posture and will most likely ask a person about their medical history, subsequently looking for symptoms and observing the normal gait.
Additionally, a doctor may ask for additional tests to identify the exact problem. These tests are performed to find the presence of a severe neurological condition if any.
Generally, imaging tests are performed in case of a recent injury or bruise. Imaging helps the professional to see the extent of damage caused.
A walking abnormality may fade away when the underlying condition is cured completely. For instance, an anomaly in the normal pattern of people walking due to trauma will get better once the injury heals. Many people are prescribed casts to set the bone in case of a fracture or broken bone. Since surgery has a higher risk of severe complications, it is often considered the last resort. Surgery is done to repair certain injuries that are not getting better even after extensive use of medicines.
Your doctor prescribes antibiotics when and if an infection results in a walking problem. These medications treat the disease while improving the symptoms.
Rehabilitation therapies are also used to help treat people walking abnormally. During physical therapy, they learn exercises specifically designed to strengthen the important muscle groups and correct the way one walks.
People with a permanent walking abnormality may require assistive devices, such as-.
There are many ways of correcting body posture. One way is to use a good-quality posture corrector. A posture corrector is an assistive device to rectify poor posture. Generally, it is designed to have a cross-back brace with adjustable straps. It also consists of a long-lined back brace, a belt for the lower back, and an electronic device with built-in sensors to better align the spine. Ideally, one should wear a back posture corrector for no more than 15-30 minutes. When felt pain, one should take it off.
Apart from using a high-quality posture corrector, changing certain lifestyle habits can help fix bad posture, such as standing with your abdomen tucked in, maintaining adequate distance between the feet while standing, sitting with a straight back, etc.
Leg braces are recommended for people having difficulty walking properly. Braces are considered a great method of prevention and treatment of abnormal gait.
In many cases, it is impossible to stop the development or occurrence of an abnormal gait. For instance, when a congenital disability causes gait abnormality, it may never get cured completely. However, correct treatment may reduce the effects and symptoms of the abnormalities to a great extent. Such people must take the necessary steps to prevent any potential injuries. Children born with walking abnormalities are provided with gross motor aids. The gait trainers for toddlers are quite popular and effective for children's growth in the early stages. However, the gait trainers may also be used by adults; apart from using assistive devices, one must also take preventive measures. To stay on a safer side, one must -
Gait trainers are mobility assistive devices designed to help individuals with motor disabilities to walk unassisted. Sometimes, a condition might impair the mobility of an individual and the rehabilitation may include restoring the gait of the individual for comfortable and healthy walking. The individual maybe someone who is learning to walk or improving their walking ability following the condition. A gait trainer is designed to offer support and postural alignment with more balance and weight-bearing than would a rollator or walker. It helps users in assisted walking or standing with greater independence. This mobility aid features optimal seat and trunk support to encourage a better and more natural gait. Here’s a few tips to help you choose the right gait trainer:
The Right Size - It is paramount to choose the right size for yourself. If the size is incorrect, the trainer will not be effective and might also be uncomfortable to use. There are basically three sizes in gait trainers – small for child, medium or medium-large for young adult and large or extra-large for an adult.
Condition of the Patient - An important thing to factor in is evaluating the user’s mobility status. The user can be ambulatory, which means can walk with some help, semi-ambulatory, which means needs help when walking, and non-ambulatory, which means needing total help for walking or standing. Depending on the level of inability to move or walk, you can choose the relevant gait trainer.
Choosing the Right Features – Measure the user’s height and weight so that the gait trainer fits their specifications. Second step would be to check for the features different gait trainers offer. Depending on what the user needs, pick out the best gait trainer that fits.
Know Your Gait Frame - Another key element for choosing a gait trainer is to understand its frame. Gait trainers have anterior and posterior framing. Anterior framing makes the equipment function very much like a walker in which the user holds the frame in front when walking. The movement forward is aided by ankle straps or prompts. A posterior framing has the user walking in front of the frame. He/she has ankle prompts tied to the feet and walks forward holding on to handlebars.
What goes inside your body plays an integral role in keeping your body healthy. Vitamin D3 benefits your gait in many ways. Therefore, it is crucial to understand what Vitamin D is good for.
Vitamin D3 is known as Cholecalciferol, a fat-soluble vitamin, naturally present in a few foods while added to others. D3 vitamin is readily available as a dietary supplement. Interestingly, it is produced internally when the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays strike the skin. The striking triggers synthesis of vitamin D.
The benefits of Vitamin D are numerous. It is considered beneficial for your skin, muscles, and hair. D3Vitamin enhances muscle strength which is a crucial factor for an abnormal gait. Adequate consumption of D3 vitamins may reduce walking problems greatly. Vitamin D supplements are also considered fruitful in coping with the deficiency of vitamin D3 in the body.
At HPFY, we have an extensive range of orthopedic and rehab products specially designed to help manage and treat abnormal gait. Choose from the best gait trainers at amazing prices and from top manufacturers and brands.
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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...
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