Gait training for children
Childhood is an important time for developing basic motor skills which will then be used for the rest of that childs life. Gait and balance are fundamental to the majority of other motor skills and while some children are able to progress through the developmental stages normally others may not progress in the same timely manner. Gait training in podiatry is the provision of therapeutic intervention to benefit a child who is having difficulty progressing in relation to their gait.
What is gait training for children?
Gait training is a program which provides assistance to children who are having difficulty walking or are not yet able to walk. The child will be assessed thoroughly with the therapist looking at various different factors including balance and walking pattern.
When might a child require gait training?
When a child has a gait abnormality it means they do not have what is considered a normal pattern of walking. Gait abnormalities can be the result of neuromuscular or musculoskeletal disorder or dysfunction or trauma leading to brain injury. A child suffering from one of the following conditions may require gait training treatment:
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Cerebral palsy
- Following surgery
- Sports Injury
- Following amputation
- Spinal Injury
- Congenital abnormalities
- Learning difficulties
- Developmental delay
What does gait training involve?
Gait training involves treatment using various different assistive devices in various different settings. A therapist may use
What is the role of a podiatrist in gait training for children?
A podiatrists role in gait training is as follows:
- To carry out a comprehensive assessment of the patients gait analysing the various features of gait including velocity (speed) stride length, cadence (distance between each foot) and asymmetry
- To decide upon a diagnosis which provides an explanation into why the child is experiencing the problems he is
- To carry out a full biomechanical assessment of the child to understanding their foot and lower limb function
- To educate and provide advice on any gait problems to the child and their parents
- To provide orthotics to improve alignment and ankle foot orthoses to correct any muscular imbalances
What are the benefits of gait training for children?
A child with an abnormal gait may receive the following benefits from their treatment:
- Increased independence
- Greater quality of life
- Children can walk around safely in all environments
- Less likely to develop secondary conditions associated with lack of mobility such as osteoporosis
- Helps to strengthen bones and prevent injury
- Decreased pain
- Improved mobility
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