As people get older, they have gait issues and find it difficult to walk. Steps become shorter and inconsistent in length. Detecting walking disorders and planning treatment is necessary to prevent falls. Gait problems may be due to several factors: weakness, spasticity, loss of balance, sensory deficiencies and fatigue. Abnormal gait or uncontrollable walking conditions are usually due to physical factors. Gait abnormalities can be improved with treatment.
Gait analysis for the elderly involves a physical examination to evaluate muscles, bones, and the nervous system. Some of the measurable factors in gait analysis include age, health, weight, size and walking speed. The specialists at an established healthcare center will conduct a detailed assessment to analyze the nature of an older patient’s gait and to identify any abnormalities. Here are some of the important parameters considered while conducting gait assessment:
- Muscle activity
- External forces
- Footstep separation during actions like shuffling, running or any other type of gait
- Shock absorption
- Metabolic and mechanical efficiency
- Energy conservation
- Continuous patterns
Gait analysis tests usually involve video documentation of the patient walking, gait kinematics and kinetics, postural balance, energy expenditure, and so on. Once the functional issues are identified, the physician recommends appropriate treatment programs. Physical therapy exercises are an important component of treatment for gait abnormalities.
Professional healthcare centers offer slip/fall prevention programs of which gait analysis are an important part. Gait training programs are then recommended to help older adults learn to walk confidently and safely and reduce the risk of falling.