Gait refers to the way in which your child walks. This includes their stride, how fast they walk, and the way that their hips, feet, and legs move together to help them take each step. When a problem develops with their gait, such as due to an injury or some other abnormality, it can lead to discomfort when walking, as well as a significant amount of pain.
What are Gait and Balance Disorders?
Balance and gait relies on the movement of so many different parts of the body, and each are incredibly dependent on a long list of external factors. There are so many different elements that can impact your child’s gait and your balance, from the type of shoes they are wearing to how many hours of sleep they got last night.
Proper gait and ideal balance really do require a full-body effort, utilizing:
- Core Muscles
- Feet, ankles and legs
- Sensory Nerves
When a problem develops in any one of these areas it can lead to difficulty walking, trouble with balance, unsteadiness on their feet, and even dizziness and lightheadedness, which can further complicate their ability to balance.
Causes of Gait and Balance Disorders
Of course, there are almost countless reasons as to why a balance or gait disorder may develop, including the development delays, chronic illnesses and autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy. In addition, conditions like peripheral neuropathy, gout, and even a brain tumor or hemorrhage can cause balance disruptions or difficulty walking, which can lead to a gait disorder.
How physical therapy helps balance and gait disorders in children
In most cases, the issue with balance and gait disorders can be addressed by working with a physical therapist. There are several tests that a physical therapist will do to diagnose the cause of your child’s gait and balance troubles, including hearing tests, testing for inner ear disorder or infection, as well as vision tests. In some cases, abnormal eye movement can contribute to difficulty with balance, but in other situations, the problem is based on something more physical.
Our physical therapist will identify what is causing trouble with your child’s gait and balance and then can work with them to help retrain their body to be able to walk and balance normally. This typically requires a combination of efforts, and a comprehensive treatment plan will typically engage strategies like muscle training, flexibility, and range of motion training, and in some cases targeted massage to address tension build-up in muscles.
If your child is experiencing trouble with their gait or balance, consult an Oceanside physical therapist at Oceanside, CA as soon as possible. We can help them feel steady and confident on their feet so they can run and play like children should.