Do you ever notice how some people glide gracefully when walking? It’s an effect known as magnetic gait, and various factors can cause it. From physical attributes to personality traits, in this blog post, we discuss what magnetic gait is, how it’s caused, and how you can make the most of it!
What Is Magnetic Gait?
Magnetic gait is a type of gait characterized by a “wrestling” motion in which the feet are lifted upward and forward with each step. This type of gait is often associated with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH), a condition in which dementia, urinary incontinence, and hypokinetic gait disorder may be present. The cardinal sign of NPH is a hypokinetic gait disorder in which the feet appear stuck to the ground. Neurological and muscular causes and other etiologies can cause disturbances such as magnetic gait. Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of magnetic gait vary depending on the underlying cause.
What Causes Magnetic Gait?
Magnetic gait is an abnormal walking pattern caused by neurological and muscular conditions. Neurological causes include Frontal Gait Disorder, which affects the subcortical white matter, and Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, which affects the older adult. Muscular causes include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and Charcot Marie Tooth, which can weaken the hip and lower extremity muscles. Diagnosis of magnetic gait is typically made through physical examination and neurological tests. Treatment for magnetic gait can vary depending on the underlying cause but may involve physical therapy, medication, or surgery. Prevention of magnetic gait involves taking precautions to reduce the risk of developing a neurological or muscular condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Magnetic Gait
Signs and symptoms of Magnetic Gait include slow walking, widened base, short steps, and difficulty lifting the feet off the floor. Additionally, a person affected by Magnetic Gait may have difficulty with leg movements specific to the weakness of the hip and lower extremity muscles. Magnetic Gait is most commonly seen in conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and Charcot Marie Tooth. The gait is typically initiated in a “wrestling” motion that carries the feet upward and forward, which may become more shuffling or magnetic when the patient is distracted. Diagnosis of Magnetic Gait requires a physical examination by a doctor to assess the patient’s gait pattern and rule out other medical conditions.
Video demonstration of a person with a magnetic gait:
Neurological Causes of Magnetic Gait
Neurological causes of magnetic gait can include neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and traumatic brain injury. These disorders can disrupt the brain’s communication with the body, resulting in an inability to lift the feet off the floor in walking. Other neurological conditions such as stroke and dementia can also cause magnetic gait. These conditions often result in a decrease in mobility and an increase in falls due to difficulties with balance. Magnetic gait can be a sign of more serious underlying medical issues, so it is important for individuals experiencing this symptom to seek medical attention.
Muscular Causes of Magnetic Gait
Muscular causes of magnetic gait can include conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and Charcot-Marie Tooth disease. These conditions can weaken the hip and lower extremity muscles, leading to gait disturbances. Other muscular causes can include arthritis, a wear-and-tear type of joint condition that can cause pain and stiffness in the joints, as well as ill-fitting footwear that can cause muscle strain and pain in the feet and legs. Diagnosing the underlying cause of magnetic gait is essential to identify the best treatment options.
Diagnosis of Magnetic Gait
Diagnosis of Magnetic Gait begins with a physical and neurological examination. The doctor will review the patient’s medical history and examine their gait. They may also order tests such as lab work, imaging studies, or even a lumbar puncture to rule out any underlying neurological causes. If a physical cause is suspected, the doctor may order further tests such as an electromyography (EMG) or nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test. Depending on the results of these tests, the doctor may prescribe physical therapy or medications to help manage the gait disorder.
Treatment for Magnetic Gait
Treatment for Magnetic Gait is focused on managing the underlying cause. Neurological causes may require medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Muscular causes may require the use of braces or orthotics for support. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. Diagnosis of Magnetic Gait is based on a physical examination, medical history, and imaging studies. Treatment plans are tailored to the individual’s needs. They may include exercises to strengthen muscles and improve flexion, gait training with a physical therapist, or assistive devices such as canes or walkers. It is vital to follow treatments as prescribed by a doctor to maximize results.
Prevention of Magnetic Gait
Prevention of magnetic gait can be achieved through lifestyle changes and physical therapy. Exercises that strengthen the muscles can help reduce the risk of magnetic gait. Proper posture and regular stretching can also help to prevent the symptoms associated with this condition. In addition, avoiding activities that require sudden changes in direction or speed can reduce the risk of developing magnetic gait. Lastly, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight is important for preventing the onset of magnetic gait.
Living with a Magnetic Gait
A magnetic gait can be difficult, affecting mobility and daily activities. It is important for those living with a magnetic gait to pay close attention to the signs and symptoms of the condition and any changes in their physical abilities. It is also essential to consult a doctor if any new or current symptoms worsen. Additionally, those with magnetic gait should be aware of the condition’s potential neurological and muscular causes and should take steps to prevent further damage. Lastly, treatment options are available to help improve mobility and reduce discomfort. With proper management, those with magnetic gait can continue to lead an active lifestyle.