Movement of the body by lifting the feet alternately and bringing 1 foot into contact with the ground before the other starts to leave it. A person’s gait is determined by body shape, size, and posture. The age at which children first walk varies enormously. Walking is controlled by nerve signals from the brain’s motor cortex (see cerebrum), basal ganglia, and cerebellum that travel via the spinal cord to the muscles. Abnormal gait may be caused by joint stiffness, muscle weakness (sometimes due to conditions such as poliomyelitis or muscular dystrophy), or skeletal abnormalities (see, for example, talipes; hip, congenital dislocation of; scoliosis; bone tumour; arthritis). Children may develop knock-knee or bowleg; synovitis of the hip and Perthes’ disease are also common. Adolescents may develop a painful limp due to a slipped epiphysis (see femoral epiphysis, slipped) or to fracture or disease of the tibia, fibula or femur. Abnormal gait may also be the result of neurological disorders such as stroke (commonly resulting in hemiplegia), parkinsonism, peripheral neuritis, multiple sclerosis, various forms of myelitis, and chorea. Ménière’s disease may cause severe loss of balance and instability.


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