What is Gait Training?
Gait training is the process of training a child to walk. Once a child establishes a walking pattern, gait training can also improve the child’s walking abilities, with or without the aid of another individual or assistive device, such as a cane or walker. A child with a gait abnormality does not have a normal walking pattern, which is usually a result of a dysfunctional musculoskeletal and/or nervous system.
How do I know if my child is progressing as he should?
In order to achieve a healthy walking pattern, a child needs good balance, core strength, bilateral coordination, endurance and functional range of motion in both legs. If a child has a deficiency in any of these areas, gait training can be used to encourage a more functional walking pattern. According to infant gross motor milestones, a child should begin to walk independently at 12-14 months. If the child does not walk independently by this age, physical therapy may be both useful and necessary to facilitate appropriate movement. Toe walking, walking with a limp or not establishing a proper heel-toe walking pattern can all be signs that a gait disturbance exists—the child could greatly benefit from physical therapy to help correct the problem.
What may happen if my child’s gait disturbance is left untreated?
If not corrected, a gait disturbance can affect a child’s posture, alignment and functional walking pattern. This can cause him trouble in climbing stairs, keeping balance while standing and participation in both physical education and everyday play.
How might I help treat my child’s gait disturbance?
For children who are walking, but having difficulty with their walking skills, gait training may help considerably. The training often includes the use of treadmills, shoe orthotics to increase alignment and ankle foot orthotics to help correct muscle imbalance.
Our approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy
After administering and evaluating the results of standardized tests, we will use an individualized treatment approach to form goals and treatment strategies to help meet your child’s needs. A home exercise program is created to insure that your child’s newly developed skills carryover into all environments, including home and school.