Gait and Balance
US Rehabilitation can provide gait training to improve walking. It may be part of an overall program to treat an injury or a physical condition that limits or prohibits the ability to walk or walk correctly.
Gait training is recommended for people who have an illness or injury that makes it difficult for them to walk on their own. There are several benefits of gait training, including:
- Retraining the legs and developing muscle memory
- Building strength in the affected muscles and joints
- Improving balance
- Improving posture
- Building endurance
- Increasing mobility
- Reducing fall risk
When there is a choice between gait training and immobilizing one or both legs, gait training is usually preferred because it allows for increased activity, which can improve your health and protect you from several conditions related to a sedentary lifestyle, like heart disease and blood clots.
Who Benefits from Gait Training?
Gait training can help people with several conditions or people who have experienced physical trauma. If you’ve experienced any of the following injuries or events, gait training may be for you.
- Stroke that has affected your balance or ability to walk
- Spinal cord injury that has weakened or paralyzed your legs
- Joint injury or hip or knee replacement surgery
- Amputation of part or all your leg(s)
- Neurological disorder affecting your balance or ability to walk
- Musculoskeletal disorder that makes walking or balancing difficult
Gait Training Details
US Rehabilitation’s Physical Therapist will choose the type of gait training for you based upon your condition, strength, and ability. The length of your treatment will depend upon how quickly you progress. You may use a treadmill and perform exercises to strengthen and train (or retrain) your muscles. You may practice stepping, sitting, standing, and lifting your legs in addition to walking.
In the beginning of therapy, we may have you use parallel bars to give you plenty of stability. While you’re holding onto the bars, our therapist will either help support you or will move your legs to simulate walking. This helps increase your muscle memory.
Balance Disorder Basics
The balance system is called the vestibular system, and if your system isn’t working as it should, you may feel dizzy, lightheaded, or unsteady, or you may feel like you’re moving or spinning when you’re not. If these sensations continue for more than a few days, you may have a balance disorder.
Symptoms of Balance Disorder Includes:
- Falling or feeling like you’re going to fall
- Inability to walk straight
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty moving into a standing position
- Feeling disoriented
- Nausea or vomiting
Causes of Balance Disorders
There are several causes of balance disorders. Anything that decreases blood flow to the brain, like a stroke, can cause balance problems. Multiple sclerosis, seizures, brain tumors, and Parkinson’s disease can also wreak havoc on your vestibular system. If your central nervous system isn’t working as it should, you may experience balance issues. Some conditions that can affect balance are heart failure, diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and thyroid disease. Trauma to your head or inner ear can also affect your balance, so ear infections, blood circulation disorders, and whiplash may be to blame if you can’t balance correctly. Meniere’s disease, labyrinthitis, and vestibular neuronitis can also cause balance disorders, as can some medications.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of balance disorders, see your doctor right away. When you can’t balance effectively, you’re more likely to fall. And falling can lead to a significant injury.
Balance training helps build strength in your core and legs while also improving your balance and your gait. Vestibular rehabilitation may also be an option depending on the cause of your balance problems. This includes balance retraining exercises that help you adjust to your balance disorder symptoms so you may feel more balanced and be less likely to fall.
US Rehabilitation provides balance training either with gait training or on its own. As part of balance training, our therapists might help you find assistive devices that help you maximize your mobility while you’re learning how to walk without losing your balance.
Balance training may help you if you:
- Are at risk of falling or have fallen in the past
- Have weak muscles or limited mobility
- Have trouble walking or being steady when you stand
- Have sensory issues, like vision problems or lower extremity numbness