Gait Instability in the Geriatric Population
This article was reviewed by Rasha R, DPT.
As people get older, its common to develop issues with gait and mobility for many reasons, from certain medical conditions such as arthritis, stroke or parkinsonism, to the use of many medications along with other factors such as arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, depression, diabetes, fear of falling, orthostatic hypotension, sleep disorders, and inner ear problems. These conditions can cause mobility disorders by causing pain, deformity, imbalance, decreased strength, fatigue, diminished sensory perception, and restricted range of motion, along with walking problems and falls.
The role of Physical Therapy
Therapists are playing the primary role in helping adults improve gait and balance with maximize safe and independent mobility and maintain their energy levels, decrease the number of falls and enhance the independence of the patient in performing their activities of daily living.
The main concentrating treatment points extracted from article below are joint range of motion in the lower extremities, strengthening, especially the back musculature, hamstrings, endurance, balance and coordination and gait training.
One of the essential steps of treatment, it helps to promote striking of the heel onto the floor when walking. Patients are discouraged from using walkers or canes as support during gait training.
Teach the patient how to shift body weight between each leg, standing on one leg, calf raises, and other repetitive exercises that strengthen specific muscle groups.
Repetition is the key to improving through exercise to create a new pathway in the brain and enhance patient progress. During gait training, the therapist should give observation and cue’s of the patient’s walking pattern along with related exercises. Start gait training indoor with close supervision then outdoor as a progression.