A spastic gait is an abnormality in the way a person walks. When a person has this kind of gait, his legs are typically weak and abnormally stiff. As he walks, he holds his legs closer together than normal, drags his feet or toes, and lacks the typical flexibility in his ankles and knees. Often, people with cerebral palsy exhibit this type of walking. Other conditions, including brain tumors and multiple sclerosis, may also contribute to this type of walk, however; it may even develop after a person has a stroke.
When a person has this kind of gait, his legs, toes, and feet are stiffer than normal. He typically does not flex his muscles and bend his legs as he walks. Instead, long-term muscle contractions usually affect one side of his body and cause him to drag one foot or his toes when he walks.
There are several conditions that may be associated with this gait. Some people, for example, have this gait abnormality as one of the symptoms of cerebral palsy, though it does not affect everyone with this condition. An individual may also develop it after suffering a stroke or because of a brain abscess. In some cases, spastic gait is even associated with brain tumors or multiple sclerosis.
There are treatments for this condition, although they may not cure a person with this gait abnormality. Instead, many of them help to encourage a more typical walking pattern. For example, exercises are often used to treat a person with a spastic gait. A physical therapist typically provides these exercises and instructs patients on how to perform them at home.
Many doctors recommend that people with this walking abnormality use two types of exercises: passive and active. When another person assists the movements of a person with a spastic gait, this is referred to as passive exercise. If the person performs the movements on his own, they are referred to as active exercises.
Leg braces may also be used to keep a person’s legs and feet properly positioned as he stands and walks. Shoe splints may be used for the same purposes. If a person has problems with balance while walking or standing, a walker may prove helpful for dealing with this gait abnormality as well.
Sometimes medications may also be used to treat this gait problem. For example, medicines may be used to reduce muscle contraction, but the effects of many medications are still being studied. Surgery may be used in severe cases as well.