Characteristic Gait Patterns in Neuromuscular Pathologies

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A mechanically effective and metabolically efficient bipedal gait pattern is the result of the intricate integration of numerous physiological systems. “Normal” gait allows for the displacement of the body as a whole, in a specified direction, using momentum and streamlined movement patterns to decrease metabolic costs. As a result, the vertical and horizontal deviations of the center of mass are minimized.For many patient populations, even minor disruptions to any physiological system can produce devastating limitations to upright stability and functional mobility. This is most often recognized by excessive displacement of the body segments accompanied by an observable decrease in velocity in an attempt to conserve energy.This article reviews the characteristic gait patterns of six specific patient populations: muscular dystrophy, polio and flaccid paralysis, cerebrovascular accident and hemiplegia, cerebral palsy and diplegia, spina bifida, and spinal cord injury. Overviews of the epidemiology, natural history, characteristic gait patterns, gait impedance factors and orthopedic management are presented.

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