What is gait?

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Gait is the medical term for locomotion or walking. Through the interplay of various muscles of the body, a person for example can move forward from one point to the next. Every human being is said to be gifted with his/her own gait or walking pattern. The muscles are the main players in terms of propelling humans to move forward in a unique pattern or cycle.  The bones and the nervous system will also play a part in completing human gait and any abnormalities in the structures involved will result in an abnormal gait or walking pattern. Muscle weakness, bone deformities, and brain disorder s for example will affect the way humans walk and move forward.

Human gait is considered a walking cycle which is composed of the stance phase and swing phase. About 60% of the whole cycle is attributed to the stance phase. This is the phase wherein one foot is on the ground. The remaining 40% of the normal human gait cycle is called the swing phase and it is during this phase that the foot is in the air and off the ground. At swing phase, while one foot is lifted off the ground, the other foot meanwhile is on stance phase for balancing purposes. During the whole gait cycle, muscles will contract and relax alternately and efficiently to provide a smooth and fluidic motion. With people having different muscle builds and bodily characteristics, unique gait or walking patterns are produced.

Gait is dependent on the normalcy and health of the brain, muscles, bones, and other structures involved in locomotion.  A person who suffers a stroke for example may have paralyzed or weakened muscles on one side of the body which could alter the normal gait and walking pattern.  Traumatic injuries that result to muscle weakness or bone loss will also make one’s gait pattern abnormal and unsmooth.

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