Preventing Abnormal Gait in Children

Gait refers to the manner in which a person walks. Abnormal gait is the defect in the walking pattern and is mainly the impact of one or more physical conditions or some neurodegeneration. It is usually established between 4-8 years  

Types

Following is a list of basic gait disorders that are based on the symptoms or appearance of a person’s walk pattern:

  • Antalgic gait: Walk against pain(anti+alge). It develops to avoid a painful walk. The patient protects injury to any body part of the leg. It can be easily observed if the hand is supporting the injured area.
  • Ataxic gait: It is a broad-based defect. The feet remain wide apart and may be irregular, jerky or slapping during movement. 
  • Magnetic gait: Feet shuffle and it feels as if they are sticking to the ground.  
  • Propulsive gait: Rigid, stooped posture and the relative inability to oppose forward momentum
  • Scissors gait: Due to spasticity in the thigh adductors. Legs flexed slightly at the hips and knees. The knees and the thighs cross making a scissor-like movement.   
  • Spastic gait: Stiff, foot-dragging walk caused due to long muscle contraction on one side.
  • Steppage gait: A foot-drop or ankle equines due to loss of dorsiflexion. The foot hangs with the toes pointing downwards. Some help is needed to lift the leg higher than normal when walking.
  • Waddling gait: Duck-like walk that may appear in childhood or sometime later.  

Causes

Improper balancing or walking abnormalities is common in people with the neural disorder. It can be caused by diseases in different parts of the body. Possible causes include:

  • A mental or conversion disorder
  • Arthritis of leg or foot joints
  • Foot related problems(swelling, spasms, skin sore, corn, ingrown nail, etc)
  • Broken bone
  • Injury or infection
  • Uneven legs
  • Torsion of the testis
  • Inflammation of muscles, tendons
  • Nervous system disorders such as cerebral palsy, stroke
  • Shin splints

Diagnosis

Abnormal gait disorder can only be diagnosed by an expert. During the physical examination, the doctor analyzes the symptoms, the medical history and also the way an individual walks. A doctor might perform certain tests to check the neurological conditions and the functionality of muscles. Usually, image tests such as X-rays are recommended in case of some recent injury or fracture. At times, MRI tests are performed to check for torn tendons and ligaments. 

Treatment and Management

According to a popular saying, prevention is better than cure. People should be cautious as legs are one of the most vital organs of the human body. While playing sports, one should wear protective gear or leg braces if needed. Well-fit footwear should be worn for any physical activity. These small measures can help you avoid gait disorder.

Treatment of a walking abnormality depends on its cause. If the gait disorder is due to any illness or injury, it gets cured automatically with the underlying condition. But, if the symptoms are related to nervous system disorder, then, proper medical treatment can only help.

The doctor checks for muscle strength to examine:

  • Knee extension force
  • Hip extension force
  • Knee flexion force
  • Hip flexion force
  • Ankle dorsiflexion

Thereafter, a medical examination is carried out to check any of these defects in the limbs:

  • Hip flexion contracture
  • Severe lower limb spasm
  • Joint deformities
  • Capsular or ligament disabilities
  • Hyper-mobility of ankle joint
  • Limb length discrepancy

This walking disorder can occur both in adults as well as children. The treatment channel is, however, alike. One of the best skilled and experienced child specialists of Gurgaon and his team has dealt with such pediatric abnormal gait cases and the results are unbelievable. After a deep analysis of the cause, the doctor prescribes antibiotics or antiviral medications in case of infection. Also, the physiotherapist might suggest some exercises for faster recovery.  

Exercises to strengthen lower limb muscles:

  • Unilateral dynamic quads
  • B/L dynamic quads

Exercise for hip muscles:

  • Side-lying hip extension
  • Prone leg raise
  • Quadruped hip extension in standing
  • Dynamic hip flexion in sitting and standing
  • Spot march
  • Hip abductors like side SLR in supine, side-lying
  • Quadripod side dog kicks 

Exercise for knee bone/knee flexors:

  • Prone knee bending
  • Hamstring curls in standing

Exercise to improve locomotion:

  • Self with stairs/wall support
  • Passive stretch with the help of a therapist
  • Lunges with wall support
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Quads stretch in standing
  • Quads stretch passive in prone
  • Knee and hip extensors with Theraband

In addition to all this, self-care, determination, and physical activity are essential to get healthy and speedy results. You should walk regularly on stairs or uneven ground or play any low-intensity sport. People with a permanent gait disorder may receive assistive devices such as crutches, leg braces, walker or a cane.

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