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Research Of Human Walking Patterns And Related Abnormalities

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Walking is a very important characteristic that enables certain organisms to survive. For Humans, it begins when a child reaches a year after the lower limbs develop into a stage where it is capable of supporting the upper part of the body. The coordination of certain systems in the body helps develop and enable walking. Gait is an anatomical term that is used to describe an individual’s manner of walking. Interestingly, the gait pattern of every individual is unique. It differs between certain individuals, after the effect of a number of factors that influences it. It is important to know the development of gait because certain abnormalities and disorders that alter the normal gait can have a serious impact on the lifestyle of an individual. The following essay will discuss gait as a normal walking pattern, the system of the body that initiates and controls it, and abnormalities that results due to the dysfunction in the mechanism and control of walking.

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The abnormalities are associated with various causes and can have an effect on the lifestyle of an individual. In addition, various diagnostic tests, treatments, and prevention measures are designed and followed in order to identify, minimize or cure, and avoid walking abnormalities respectively in life. The pattern of walking varies among individuals, depending on how their body system works to coordinate their foot placement. The neurological system and the musculoskeletal system are the two main systems involved in the mechanism of gait. The main part of the neurological system that functions to coordinate gait is called the cerebellum. The cerebellum is sometimes called motor function area as it coordinates the functions of motor areas of the body. Specific nucleus located in the cerebellum is connected with the muscles in the muscle spindle, which contains the nuclear bag and nuclear chain fibers. This connection enables impulses from a certain nucleus in the cerebellum to be transmitted via the nerves fibers to coordinate the movement of the muscles by attaching to the muscle spindle. The musculoskeletal system is made up of the muscles and bones. Their movement is as one because the muscles are attached to the bones.

Moreover, in the central nervous system, higher centers also participate in the control of foot placement, as suggested by studies relating to brain atrophy and lesions of the white matter (Bruijn & Van Dieën, 2018). Therefore, the neurological system and the musculoskeletal system are said to be walking together to coordinate an individual’s gait. Normal gait results from the body’s system functioning normally without any abnormalities or disorders. It is physiologically defined as a mechanism that depends upon the integration of the nervous system, bones, and muscles. Different gait pattern is determined by the intensity of integration (“1-NORMAL~1,” n. d. ). In a normal gait, four major criteria are crucial to walking. They are equilibrium, which is the ability to maintain balance and posture, musculoskeletal integrity which involves joints, muscle function and bone, locomotion which is the initiation and maintenance of rhythmic stepping, and neurological control (“1-NORMAL~1,” n. d. ).

For example, locomotion may induce variation such as walking from a light room into a dark room (Bruijn & Van Dieën, 2018). There are also forces such as muscular force, floor reaction forces, gravitational force and forces of momentum that enables normal gait patterns. Furthermore, normal gait is more like a cycle that is made up of two main phases. The stance phase made up 60% of the gait cycle and the swing phase made up the remaining 40% (Pirker & Katzenschlager, 2017). Moreover, strength, coordination, and sensation of the body are the main factors that are connected with each other to initiate a normal gait. Therefore, the integration of certain factors contributes to the functioning of a normal gait. When a person is unable to walk in the usual way, he or she is said to be having an abnormal gait. The abnormality can be in the neurological part of the brain that controls walking or in the muscles and bones. Fletcher (2017) points out the five most common types of abnormality seen in patients with gait problem. The first one is spastic gait, which describes the dragging of the feet while walking. Scissors gait describes the inward bending of legs and steppage gait occurs when the toes face towards the ground during the course of walking. Waddling gait and propulsive gait describes the movement of the legs from side to side while walking and pushing of the head and neck forward while walking respectively (Fletcher, 2017). In addition, someone that has a limp is considered also as having an abnormal gait. Furthermore, gait abnormality can greatly affect a person’s livelihood if the abnormality results in a long-term effect.

For example, the affected person may not be able to do certain jobs that require the active use of the feet. It may serve as a hindrance when moving from one place to another. Therefore, gait abnormality is such a disadvantage, as it can make life very difficult for those that are affected with. Gait abnormality is associated with certain causes. The cause can be an injury in the lower extremities or a disease affecting the part of the neurological system and leg that participate in the coordination and control of human gait. For injuries such as a cut, bruise, and fracture, the effect may be for a short period of time. However, causes that are associated with diseases may have a lasting effect on the person affected. Examples of such diseases include arthritis, birth defects, soft tissues of the leg and inner ear infections, tendonitis, myositis, stroke, shin splints, cerebral palsy, and physiological disorders (Fletcher, 2017). Furthermore, specific types of gait abnormality mentioned are caused by specific diseases and disorders. For example, propulsive gait is caused by Parkinson disease as well as carbon monoxide poisoning. Spastic gait is caused by brain trauma, spinal cord trauma, and multiple sclerosis. Congenital hip dysplasia, spinal muscle atrophy, and muscular dystrophy are the causes of waddling gait (DJ, 2014). As discussed, neurological diseases are the main causes of long-term abnormality. Moreover, most injuries result in a short-term abnormality except for other serious injuries acquired from accidents and contact sports. Therefore, diseases and injuries are the main cause of gait abnormality. Having an abnormal gait can greatly have an impact in the way someone lives in the society and sometimes can lead to death. Normal things such as walking or playing particular sports may seem difficult. The abnormality may serve as a hindrance to achieving certain aims and goals in life. Life may not be very interesting since there will be a lot of challenges ahead. For example, in the case of a graduate student, he or she is likely to be rejected when applying for a job if the abnormality is noticeable during the course of an interview.

Furthermore, gait abnormality comes naturally when a person reaches the age of 70 and above. For example, a study was conducted on 468 subjects aged 70 years and above reveals that 168 of the subjects were diagnosed with the abnormal gait. The study also showed that the incidence of abnormal gait is higher with advancing age and that differences in sex may relate to the varying medical risk factor. For example, an older woman, arthritis is more common and a contributor to gait abnormalities that are non-neurological (Vignon & Dougados, 2003). Moreover, abnormal gait is also the main cause of death as revealed by epidemiological studies which predict greater risks of death. Therefore, the effect of walking abnormality is diverse and has greatly had an impact on the population and the type of lifestyle people are living. Gait abnormalities can be diagnosed in order to give proper treatment. The diagnosis of abnormal gait is the identification of the nature and cause of abnormal walking pattern. When diagnosing a patient, three important things are considered. The physical therapists may review significant symptoms exposed during the examination, view the medical history of the patient and do observations by asking the patient to walk so that the therapist can identify any abnormalities in the walking pattern. For example, when a person walked by moving from side to side, he or she can be diagnosed as having a waddling gait, or a propulsive gait can be observed if someone pushes his or her neck and head forward when walking (Fletcher, 2017). Furthermore, doing diagnosis enables the doctor or therapist to be able to identify the type of abnormality and suggest possible treatments available. For example, in psychogenic gait disorders, inconsistencies in neurological findings are known as the indicator of neurological disorders (Pirker & Katzenschlager, 2017). Moreover, certain tests to check the function of muscles or nerves can be performed to determine if the cause of the condition is in the structures. The doctor may order tests such as X-ray to identify broken bones or fractures.

Additionally, the type of abnormality is associated with the causes and observed through walking. Therefore, it is very important to do diagnosis accurately and carefully as it determines what treatment can be given for the type of abnormality someone has. Once someone experiences certain symptoms of abnormality in walking, it is always wise to look for treatments. The treatment available can completely cure the abnormality or reduces its effect. Treatments given depends upon the actual cause. Neurological causes such as stroke, cerebral palsy and other neurological diseases that affect walking patterns are difficult to treat. However, non-neurological causes including injuries are treatable. For example, injuries in the feet, fractures, broken bones, inflammation of the joints and muscles are common musculoskeletal injuries that are treatable (Fletcher, 2017). For the abnormality to be treatable, it depends upon the nature of the cause itself and other contributing factors that influences it. Common options for treatments associated with injuries include physical or in most severe cases surgery is required. Furthermore, the treatments given can be in effect for a long term or short term. For cases that are long termed, the person is likely to use assistive devices such as leg braces, canes, and walkers for treatment. Moreover, without treatment, the abnormality has a greater chance of worsening, which can be a leading factor causing another problem.

For example, without treatment, someone with a cautious gait is likely to be handicapped (Pirker & Katzenschlager, 2017). Therefore, treatment is necessary for regaining normal gait or at least reduce the effect of the abnormality. Prevention is the first step to take in order to live a healthy lifestyle free from diseases and abnormalities. Walking abnormalities can be prevented. In order to prevent the abnormality, it entirely depends upon the causes. However, it is impossible to prevent genetic factors and birth defects associated with gait abnormality. For abnormalities caused by injuries, certain preventive steps can be followed. For instance, wearing protective gears during physical exercise and sports, or wearing leg braces (Fletcher, 2017). Furthermore, a more generalized cause of injury is falling. There are general measures undertaken to prevent fall-related injuries. For example, wearing adequate footwear, hip protectors, eating a healthy diet and doing exercise regularly (Pirker & Katzenschlager, 2017). Moreover, prevention is known to be better than cure. Therefore, to be on the safe side both physically and socially, prevention measures are considered.

To conclude, with advancing technology, walking patterns and related abnormalities, its causes and the effects, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention has been widely discussed on the internet and from several textbooks. As discussed, the control and mechanism of walking is effective and said to be functioning normally through the association and coordination of the neurological and musculoskeletal system. Abnormalities are acquired due to injuries and diseases or resulted from genetic factors that affect the normal mechanism. Injuries and associated diseases are the main causes of abnormal gait and its effect can be either long term or short term. Furthermore, gait abnormalities can be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional only. However, as healthy as someone is, it is wiser to take into account prevention measures in order to avoid abnormalities in walking and maintain normal gait throughout in life. In the future, the causes of abnormal gait are likely to be minimized regarding the fact that advanced treatment and diagnosis with the aid of digital interventions are designed to help make life interesting and worth living for those with an abnormal gait.

15 April 2020

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