When the nervous system breaks down, gait becomes more primitive.

Whether we are looking at an injury or a neurological disorder, when something goes awry, we can almost always predict that the gait pattern will start to decompose. We can learn a lot about gait from watching this kiddo walk. An immature nervous system is very similar to one which is compensating meaning there will often "cheat" around a more proper and desirable movement pattern; we often resort to a more primitive state when challenges beyond our ability are presented. This is very common when we lose some aspect of proprioception, particularly from some peripheral joint or muscle, which in turn, leads to a loss of cerebellar input (and thus cerebellar function). Remember, the cerebellum along with the upper brainstem is a temporal pattern generating center so a loss of cerebellar sensory input leads to poor pattern generation output.

Watch this clip several times and then try and note each of the following:

  • Wide based gait; this is because proprioception is still developing (joint and muscle mechanoreceptors and of course, the spino cerebellar pathways and motor cortex)

  • increased progression angle of the feet: this again is to try and retain stability. External rotation allows them to access a greater portion of the glute max and the frontal plane (engaging an additional plane is always more stable).

  • Shortened step length: this keeps the center of gravity close to the body and makes corrections for errors that much easier This immature DEVELOPING system is very much like a mature system that is REGRESSING. This is a paramount learning point !)

  • Decreased speed of movement; this allows more time to process proprioceptive clues, creating accuracy of motion

  • Sometimes we see increased arm and accessory movements, again to try and increase proprioceptive input and provide additional stability.

Proprioceptive clues are an important aspect of gait analysis, in both the young and old, especially since we tend to revert back to an earlier phase of development when we have an injury or dysfunction.

We will be talking about these principals along with 2 cases of neurological disorders and more this Wednesday evening for our "3rd Wednesdays" talk on online.com: Biomechanics 321. 5 PST, 6MST, 7CST, 8EST

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#gaitanalysis #decompositionofgait #proprioception #neurologicaldisorder #thegaitguys