Gait Dysfunctions - Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Gait Dysfunctions


What is a Gait Dysfunction?

A gait dysfunction is a way of walking that is different from a normal walking pattern. Dysfunctions in gait throws off the proper body alignment, increasing the stress put on the lower back, hips, knees and ankles. This can result in difficulties with walking long periods of time, pain, and fatigue, and is one of the most common causes of falls. Some causes of gait dysfunctions are injuries, limited range of motion after surgery, compensatory techniques for overcoming pain, or improper biomechanical alignment due to genus valgus/varus or scoliosis.

Common Types of Gait Dysfunctions

Antaglia: Short stride length, appears to walk with a limp, often uses an assistive device such as a cane or feels the need to grab hold of objects while walking to ensure stability. An individual with an antalgic gait dysfunction has pain in one of their legs that is increased when bearing weight, such as with walking. Possible causes include arthritis or even traumatic injury.

Ataxia: Erratic and unpredictable stride patterns are characteristics of this gait dysfunction. An ataxic gait dysfunction is often the result of an injury to the central nervous system or from vestibular impairments such as veritgo.

Parkinsonian: This type of gait dysfunction is related to Parkinson’s Disease, where individuals make very small movements due to a defect in their nervous system. While walking, Individuals will take small, short steps, and may even shuffle.

Steppage (Neuropathic): Foot drop is the key component present in this gait dysfunction and is a result of being unable to lift the ankle high enough to clear the ground, meaning overcompensating by lifting the hip higher and taking a bigger step is present. This is another dysfunction that most commonly arises from a stroke or other neurological impairment.

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