When muscular function deteriorates, an individual's walking capabilities are often affected. This consequence can result in abasia, a number of conditions that are all characterized by walking impairment. Four primary types of the condition exist: paralytic, spastic, choreic, and trembling. Each type affects the legs, and the ailments are differentiated by their respective causes.
Abasia may create a wide range of walking difficulties. Uncontrolled movements can disrupt an person's coordination, creating chaotic swaying. Some individuals also lose balance, and may fall without assistance. A slow, lurching gait may come from muscles that are weak and difficult to move. In the most severe cases, overall walking or even standing ability may be highly limited or nonexistent.
Leg muscles that have become paralyzed are basis of paralytic abasia. A damaged or severed spinal cord often produces this symptom. Serious cases can also cause an absence of feeling in the legs. Individuals afflicted with this type of muscular impairment are frequently not able to walk at all.
In contrast, spastic abasia — or paroxysmal trepidant — is not caused by paralysis, but rather by the stiffening of leg muscle. Impairments in the brain, like cerebral palsy, cause a weakening of the muscles in the legs. This hinders the legs' movements as well as their natural reflex processes, thus making the muscles stiff and tight. The stiffness typically manifests after an individual tries to stand. An inability to stand correctly coupled with difficulty walking is sometimes collectively referred to as astasia-abasia.
Choreic abasia, on the other hand, results when the legs undergo a process known as chorea. Uncontrolled limb movements are the primary symptom of chorea, and the condition can impact various muscular systems in the body. Limbs are a common target, and if only one limb is impacted the ailment is called hemichorea. Genetic or brain-based neurological disorders are a frequent source of chorea side effects. When the legs are impacted, walking may be punctuated by strange movements, postures, and uncontrollable thrashing due to involuntary muscle contractions.
Simple trembling can even lead to impaired walking. Such is the cause of trembling abasia. Muscle and subsequent limb shaking that cannot be controlled characterizes this particular type. Like most other classifications, a neurological dysfunction is frequently the cause.
Although a complete cure is unlikely, several treatment options exist for an individual afflicted with abasia. Pharmaceutical drugs may prove helpful in a few cases. Most treatment protocols, however, rely on a combination of physical and occupational therapy to improve the patient’s day-to-day motor abilities, and counseling to address the psychological and emotional stresses the individual will likely face.