Cerebellar impairment = Gait Changes = Happy Patient

This is a fairly info dense post with many links. please take the time to explore each one to get the most out of it. 

If you have been with us here on TGG long enough, you know the importance of the cerebellum and gait. Mechanoreceptor information travels north to the cortex via the dorsal (and ventral) spinocerebellar pathways to be interpreted (and interpolated, in the case of the ventral pathway), with the information relaying back to the motor cortex and vestibular nucleii and eventually back down to the alpha (and gamma) motor neurons that proved the thing you call movement and thus gait. (Cool video on spinocerebellar pathways here and here).

This FREE FULL TEXT paper has some cool charts, like this one, that show the parameters of gait that change with cerebellar dysfunction (in this case, disease, although idiopathic means they really don't know. Anatomical or physiological lesions will behave the same, no? Doesn't the end result of a functional short leg look the same as an anatomical one?)

Looking tat this chart, what do we really see? People with cerebellar dysfunction:

  • a shorter step length
  • a wider base of gait
  • decreased velocity
  • increased lateral sway
  • slower overall gait cycle

Hmmmm...Beginning to sound like a move toward more primitive gait. Just like we talked about in this post on the 5 factors and proprioception here several years ago. We like to call this decomposition of gait. 

They go on to talk about specific anatomic regions of the cerebellum and potential correlation to specific gait abnormalities, like the intermediate zone and interposed nucleii controlling limb dynamics and rhythmic coordination like hypermetria (overshooting a target), especially when walking in uneven surfaces or when gait is perturbed, like walking into something or changes in surface topography, or the lateral zone of the cerebellum, for voluntary limb control, such as where you place your foot. Definitely gait nerd material.

There aren't any direct tips on rehab, but it would stand to reason that activities that activate the cerebellum and collateral pathways would give you the most clinical gains. Lots of propriosensory exercises like here, here, here and here for a start.

Happy cerebellum = Happy patient

The Gait Guys





Winfried Ilg, Heidrun Golla, Peter Thier, Martin A. Giese; Specific influences of cerebellar dysfunctions on gait. Brain 2007; 130 (3): 786-798. doi: 10.1093/brain/awl376  FREE FULL TEXT