When a physical therapist analyzes a person’s gait, they are taking a closer look at the individual’s walking style and manner. This means that gait training physical therapy focuses on improving or strengthening a person’s walking pattern. But who could benefit from this type of physical therapy, and how is gait training conducted? We answer those questions and more in today’s blog.
Gait Training – What Is It And Who Uses It?
There are a lot of factors and functions that go into your ability to walk with a smooth and balanced pattern, so your physical therapist will take a closer look at all of the systems that are involved and look for areas that need to be improved. For example, your physical therapist may want to focus on strengthening your muscles and joints, improving your balance, building up your endurance or retraining your muscle memory so that you can walk confidently without the risk of a fall.
People in all different walks of life could benefit from physical therapy, but some of the most common groups that our physical therapy team works with to address gait abnormalities are those with:
- Hip, knee or ankle replacements
- Spinal cord injuries
- Lower body fractures
- Lower body amputations
- Neurological issues/Strokes
- Musculoskeletal or nervous systems disorders
- Balance issues/Elevated fall risk
How Is Gait Training Performed?
Gait training can be conducted in a few different ways, but like most physical therapy sessions, it will begin with an initial assessment to establish a baseline. Your physical therapist may have you stand or walk with any necessary aids to see how your body responds to this stress and motion. They may even use some motion capture devices to break down your gait frame by frame.
Once your physical therapist has a better understanding of your condition and your gait, they’ll begin developing a gait training routine. Oftentimes this involves controlled walking on a treadmill or in a straight line with arm bars available for support if you cannot bear your full weight at the outset. They will slowly have you take on bigger challenges to strengthen muscle groups, improve joint flexibility or reestablish comfortable range of motion in the areas that assist with the walking process.
Walking in a straight line is helpful, but once your physical therapist is confident in your ability to do that, they may have you take on bigger challenges that you’ll likely face during your daily activities when moving and walking. Some of those additional skills that they may train you to perform again include stepping over an object, navigating up and down stairs, sitting down, standing up or moving laterally.
Depending on your underlying condition, gait training may only take a few sessions, or it may be a slow and steady process over the course of main months until you’ve made the fullest recovery possible. Either way, we’ll be with you every step of the way so that you can get back to walking confidently and safely. Whether you need help resuming a normal gait after hip replacement surgery or in the wake of a stroke that affected your balance, we are here for you.
For more information about gait training physical therapy, or to talk to a specialist about a different physical issue that you’re facing, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.