Healthcare professionals such as physical therapists, podiatrists, and orthopedic surgeons use gait analysis to assess walking patterns for identifying potential medical issues. Gait is divided into two distinct phases – stance phase and swing phase – that involve absorbing forces from gravity during movement cycles. During the stance phase, all forces associated with walking are dispersed by the foot-ankle complex, while in the swing phase, energy is stored and ready for re-use when moving again. Our gait is a unique indicator of our individuality and mobility, allowing us to move from one point to another. It consists of 8 distinct phases: heel-strike, initial contact, midstance, and terminal stance. Each distinct phase represents essential components in helping humans arrive at their desired destination with their feet firmly on the ground. Healthcare professionals employ a comprehensive set of evaluation methods to assess gait abnormalities in patients with lower limb deformities or injuries. This includes observing speed, step length, and angle, as well as measuring flexibility and strength across joints and proprioception abilities. A professional will also analyze posture and symmetry while walking or running, and leverage advanced diagnostic tools like force plates, which can measure vertical impulse or power output per cycle. Gait analysis is invaluable for clinicians assessing and treating various musculoskeletal issues. By examining a patient’s gait pattern, doctors can gain valuable knowledge to support decisions such as medication changes or the use of orthotics devices designed to provide posture correction and stabilization while alleviating pain or improving mobility.
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