This week we had a physical therapist come guest lecture on gait. It was intriguing and a worthwhile lecture. We focused on gait patterns more common in geriatric populations, since that was where her expertise was. We focus on the gaits of a person with Parkinson's or a CVA (stroke). Then we learned to walk with a variety of canes, walkers, and crutches. They are much harder to coordinate than I would have imagined. I also always thought it was the people with walkers that were slow, but it is really the walker itself. The walker forces one to take smaller steps, and it prevents one from gaining momentum. Canes should be used for balance, and almost never for weight bearing because it is likely to cause hand issues because the hands are not meant to weight bear. I also learned that I am horrible with crutches, so let's hope I never need them.
Here is a video of the gait of a man with Parkinson's before and after medication. It is amazing.
Sometimes it was hard for the class to pay attention to details because realistically we will not be teaching anyone walk properly. We just need to know to refer to a physical therapist. However, we do need to know how the assistive devices work because often we "trick" them out to make them more functional. It is important to learn about gait though because many of the activities we do with patients will require them to be slightly mobile, even if it is a short trip to the bathroom, and we need to know how they are likely to fall, so that we can prevent it.