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Gait Rehabilitation / Re-education

Walking is something we take for granted but includes not only walking indoors but over a variety of different terrains, walking up and down slopes, stepping up and down curbs, negotiating uneven and unstable surfaces, changing direction and speed and being able to cope with crowds of people and being bumped. This ability is life enriching and a basic part of our everyday lives. Walking independently after any major trauma or stroke is the most commonly expressed goal of patients.

Gait training or gait rehabilitation is the act of learning how to walk, either as a child, or, more frequently, after sustaining an injury or disability. Physiotherapists are invariably involved in retraining gait.

Many treatment approaches are used to assist the recovery of walking function post stroke and ongoing research aims to determine which aspects of a gait rehabilitation programme, show improvements in meaningful gait function and performance. Gait related activities has been defined as activities involving aspects of walking such as stair walking, turning around, walking quickly, and walking for specific distances for example greater than 300m in one’s community.

Gait training can take several forms. Strength training, balance training, endurance training and Task Oriented training are some examples of approaches, but repetition of the actual motions performed during walking is the most crucial factor. Parallel bars may be used to help with gait training, especially in the initial stages when a patient is first learning or re-learning to walk. They involve a person walking between two handrails to support themselves, often with the therapist either helping to support the patient or physically moving the patient’s legs. Gait trainer or other gait aids are also utilized.

In recent years there have been advancements in how the patient can increase the duration of therapy safely to make for more effective treatment. Body-weight support (BWS) systems like the Biodex or unweighting devices are starting to become more and more popular. Robotic assisted walking with the Lokomat is also a new approach to gait rehabilitation.

The Gait Lab

Rita Henn & partners has combined the skills of trained Physiotherapists with highly advanced specialized equipment to establish The Gait Lab.

The Gait lab is a gait retraining facility which aims at assisting clients during rehabilitation to achieve the maximum independence in walking and will be using equipment such as the Lokomat for robotic walking, the Biodex unweighing system or Unweighted Treadmill for body weight supported treadmill and overland walking and Functional Electrical Stimulation.

Lokomat – Robotic walking provides clients with repetitive, effective and motivating gait training. The client obtains sensory information through stepping on the treadmill, which is an important contributor to motor relearning.

Biodex Unweighing system enables partial weight-bearing therapy to be conducted with the assurance of client comfort and safety, and with convenient access to the client for manual assistance and observation.

Functional Electrical Stimulation is a single channel neuromuscular stimulator providing peroneal stimulation to correct dropped foot.

The Unweighted Treadmill is being used for improving gait in patients with neuro and spinal injuries, as well as amputees. It involves a harness to support some or all of the body weight. This enables the therapist to concentrate on facilitation of correct walking patterns.

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