Alert: Almost one-third of people of Age 65 years are rendered Unfit to Walk!Sep 04, 2018
Elderly people are often seen having walking difficulties and there are numerous reasons for their disorderly condition. Also, they are said to be ‘off-legs’ if their condition deteriorates suddenly and impairs their ability to walk normally. Commonly, after reaching the age of 65, one-third of the patients are rendered unable to walk.
Gait Disorders in the Elderly People
Limited mobility in people can raise their chances of contracting illnesses, being socially disconnected and leading a poor quality of life. Also, they may feel unsteady or lethargic.
Some factors leading to mobility impairment are obesity, lack of physical exercise, old age, dehydration, infections and body imbalances.
Sometimes, an underlying medical condition such as Arthritis and Diabetes are also responsible. Those groups of people suffering from nervous system issues like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis—to name a few—are found to have an abnormal gait as well.
Any person having peripheral neuropathy faces tingling in their limbs and numbness. Also, they may have difficulty while ascending stairs. They may be unable to maintain their body balance and have a tendency of falling down periodically too.
Some orthopaedic treatments can give rise to gait abnormalities as well. These include joint replacement or Arthroplasty, fractures and amputations. Also, if you undergo chemotherapy, your gait is affected and the recovery period could range from 6–12 months.
At times, joint pain and Arthritis can make walking difficult; however, after the pain alleviates, your gait normalizes. Additionally, Hemiplegic groups can have circumduction gait and cerebral palsy patients are seen ailing from scissoring gait.
Anybody finding difficulty during walking must consult the doctor for diagnosing their condition. As part of a neurological examination, the experts will check your gait for ascertaining whether normal. This is required because normal gait necessitates the functioning of systems such as sensation, coordination and strength in an integrated manner. In short, the gait of an individual helps to determine whether they are suffering from problems of the musculoskeletal and nervous system.
During a diagnosis, the doctors will ask about the frequency of falls and the time-period of your troubles. Also, they might check for neurological or cardiac issues. Your blood pressure and heart rate are checked as well. The motor skills of the patients are, also, examined. Moreover, studying the drug history of the patients is necessary for ascertaining whether the medications are causing any side-effects. The doctors will, also, ask about any fractures and examine the lower limbs of the patients. The patient’s history of drug and alcohol abuse is studied too. After taking into consideration the results, the medical professionals will decide on the treatment plan—one that is suitable as per your condition.
If multiple factors are giving rise to gait abnormalities, then a multidisciplinary approach is suggested. Therapists, physiotherapists and allied healthcare experts are consulted. Also, treatments can include body exertion, balance training and assistive devices—as seen below.
Under strength training, the patients are advised resistance exercises, leg press machines and knee extension machines for improving mobility.
Where balance training is concerned, the elderly patients are taught about healthy body posture. Also, they learn about shifting pressure on the feet for leaning and bending sideways or backwards. In fact, they are trained to stand for 10 seconds on one leg. Also, they practice walking upon virtual objects, Tai-chi techniques, tandem walking and turning while walking.
Exercises for improving Balance
The medical experts, depending on the patient’s condition, might recommend assistive devices—like canes and walkers—to the elderly persons for help during walking, if they have gait-linked disorders.
Walkers for assistance during Walking
Some preventive measures of gait unsteadiness are keeping physically fit through exerting the body on a regular basis. Leading an active lifestyle and the practice of resistance, balance training are helpful as well.