Just like the eyes are the windows to the soul, a person’s gait pattern is the window to any underlying disease or musculoskeletal irregularities. Clinicians have been using gait analysis for years to measure movement, identify abnormalities and their causes, as well as create treatment plans to allow patients to work towards normal movement patterns. There are plenty of technological ways to analyze gait, but no camera can replace a well-informed clinician and his or her observational skills. The more experience you have in studying gait, the better diagnosis and treatment plan you can make. If you need to learn how to identify gait abnormalities or need a quick refresher, we’ve got you covered.

The following eight gait patterns are interpreted from an article featured on the Stanford Medicine 25 blog. To learn more about gait analysis and other diseases, abnormalities and treatments, visit their site for regularly updated content.

1. Hemiplegic gait

What to look for:

  • Unilateral weakness on the affected side
  • Flexed, adducted and internally rotated arm on affected side
  • Leg in extension with plantar flexion of the foot and toes
  • Arm held to one side and drags his or her affected leg in circumduction due to weakness of distal muscles and extensor hypertonia in lower limb

2. Parkinsonian gait

What to look for:

  • Will notice rigidity and bradykinesia
  • Stooped with the head and neck forward
  • Flexion at the knees and entire upper extremity, with fingers usually extended
  • Slow, small steps
  • May also have difficulty initiating steps.
  • Most commonly seen in Parkinson’s disease

3. Ataxic gait (Cerebellar gait)

What to look for:

  • Clumsy, staggering movements with a wide-based gait
  • While standing still, the patient’s body may experience titubation
  • Not able to walk from heel to toe or in a straight line
  • Most commonly seen in cerebellar disease, or those who are intoxicated

4. Sensory gait (Stomping gait)

What to look for:

  • Feet will slam hardly on the floor
  • May exhibit a high leg lift when stepping
  • Commonly seen in disorders of the dorsal columns or in diseases affecting the peripheral nerves

5. Diplegic gait

What to look for:

  • Involvement on both sides
  • Spasticity in lower extremities worse than upper extremities
  • Walks with abnormally narrow base, dragging both legs and scraping the toes
  • Tremendous tightness of hip adductors
  • Common in patients with cerebral palsy

6. Neuropathic gait (steppage gait)

What to look for:

  • Seen in patients with foot drop
  • Due to an attempt to lift the leg high enough during walking so that the foot does not drag on the floor.

7. Myopathic gait

What to look for:

  • A drop in the pelvis on the contralateral side (trendelenburg)
  • If bilateral, pelvis will drop on both sides resembling a waddle
  • Most commonly seen in patients with myopathies

8. Choreiform gait (Hyperkinetic gait)

What to look for:

  • Irregular, jerky, involuntary movements in all extremities
  • Most commonly seen in patients with certain basal ganglia disorders
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