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Gait disorders

26 December 2022

What are gait disorders?

Gait disorders are disturbances in the way a person walks or moves. These can affect balance, coordination and posture during physical activity. While some gait disorders may be present from birth, many develop over time due to injury, illness or other medical conditions. Common types of gait disorders include pigeon toe, out-toeing and toe walking.

What is pigeon toe?

Pigeon toe, also known as in-toeing, is when the toes point inward when walking. It is most common in children under the age of five and can be caused by a range of factors such as weak muscles around the hips or ankles, flat feet, curved legs or hip dysplasia. It is usually not a cause for concern and may resolve on its own. However, if the condition persists after age five it is recommended that a doctor be consulted as more serious issues may be present.

What is out-toeing?

Out-toeing is when the toes point outward while walking. It can also occur in children under the age of five but usually resolves on its own. If it persists then a doctor should be consulted as the underlying cause may need to be addressed. Out-toeing can also occur in adults and is usually due to arthritis, hip or knee replacement surgery, or muscle weakness around the hips.

What is toe walking?

Toe walking is when a person stands on their toes while walking and is usually seen in children under the age of three. It can be caused by tightness in the calf muscles, flat feet or neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy but often resolves on its own without treatment. If toe walking persists after age three then a doctor should be consulted as there may be underlying medical issues that need to be addressed.

What causes gait disorders?

Gait disorders can be caused by a range of factors such as weak muscles, medical conditions or injuries. If the gait disorder persists and is causing pain or difficulty with physical activities then it is important to consult a doctor in order to determine the underlying cause and effective treatment plan.

How are gait disorders diagnosed?

Gait disorders are diagnosed by observing the way a person walks and moves. The doctor will also ask questions about medical history, any injuries or illnesses that may be contributing to the gait disorder, and overall physical activity levels. Imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs can also help diagnose underlying causes of gait disorders.

How can gait disorders be treated?

What treatment and therapies are available for children with gait disorders?

Treatment for gait disorders depends on the underlying cause and can range from physical therapy to surgery. Physical therapy is often used to strengthen muscles, improve posture and balance, and increase flexibility. Orthotics may also be prescribed in order to correct foot alignment or provide additional support. In cases where surgery is necessary, the doctor will decide which type of procedure is best suited to the individual.

For children with gait disorders, there are a range of treatments available such as physical therapy, orthotics, and even special shoes that can help improve posture and walking ability. Depending on the underlying cause, medications may also be prescribed to help manage pain or muscle spasms. Lastly, the use of assistive devices such as walkers or canes may also be recommended in order to improve balance and stability.

What is physiotherapy for children with gait disorders?

Physiotherapy is a type of physical therapy that helps to improve strength, flexibility and balance while also helping reduce pain. Physiotherapists use a range of techniques such as stretching, strengthening exercises and posture correction in order to help children with gait disorders. The therapist may also recommend assistive devices such as crutches or braces in order to help improve walking ability.

What is occupational therapy for children with gait disorders?

Occupational therapy is a type of therapy that helps children with gait disorders learn how to cope with physical limitations and improve their daily functioning. Occupational therapists use a range of techniques such as adaptive equipment, exercises and activities in order to help the child gain independence, confidence and self-esteem. They will also provide guidance on safety issues related to the child's gait disorder and help them to adapt their environment in order to improve their quality of life.

What financial support is available for children with gait disorders in Australia?

In Australia, financial support is available for children with gait disorders through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS provides funding to cover the cost of various treatments and therapies including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology and psychology services. Additionally, funding may also be provided to purchase assistive equipment such as wheelchairs or walkers, or to modify homes in order to accommodate the needs of the child.

How can you look after yourself and your family?

Looking after yourself and your family when caring for a child with a gait disorder is important. Taking breaks, seeking out support from friends and family, getting enough rest and exercise are all essential to ensure that you have the energy to care for your child effectively. Additionally, it can be helpful to talk to other parents in similar situations as they may be able to provide valuable advice and support. Finally, it is important to remember that every child is different and what works for one may not work for another – take the time to understand your child’s needs in order to find the best possible treatment plan.