Gait disorders after traumatic brain injury

Patient Using Walker

Limited mobility can negatively affect a traumatic brain injury survivor's ability to reintegrate into pre-injury life. And yet, little is actually known about the effect of traumatic brain injury on gait (how one moves, walks).

There are no guidelines that specifically determine gait disorders in traumatic brain injury and, as a result, clinicians often overlook mobility in their testing. An extensive review recently conducted by Australian researchers has helped to identify the specific gait impairments found after traumatic brain injury.

Deficits were classified as either spatiotemporal (the timing of movement and how movement is related to surrounding space) or kinematic (movement without reference to space and time). Spatiotemporal gait disorders in TBI included walking with shorter steps and walking more slowly. Kinematic gait disorders in TBI included reduced range of motion and increased mediolateral center of mass displacement (which negatively affects a smooth gait during walking).

The researchers suggested that, although the gait impairments found in TBI survivors were not necessarily unique to brain injury, there remained a need for further clinical study and specific evaluation tools.

Williams G, Glana B, Morris ME, & Olver J. Spatiotemporal deficits and kinematic classification of gait following a traumatic brain injury: A systematic review. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (February 2010).