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How can gait training help SCI survivors?

Facing a spinal cord injury can uproot your entire life. You may lose the ability to stand, walk or perform daily tasks. According to Healthline, gait training is a form of physical therapy that may help you gain independence.

Gait training lowers your risk of illnesses associated with lack of mobility and reduces your fall risk.

What is gait training?

Most professionals recommend gait training as soon as possible after an injury. However, you need to have enough strength to carry out the training. Your physical therapist may have you walk on a treadmill or complete muscle-strengthening activities in gait training.

The physical therapist may use machines, harnesses and themselves to help support your body weight and provide stability. For example, he or she may attach a harness to you while you walk the treadmill. You may also have to practice lifting your legs, standing up and stepping over objects. In some cases, you may require an adaptive device to help you gain more independence while walking.

What does gait training improve?

Gait training trains your muscle memory and builds endurance. The purpose of physical therapy is to improve your balance, posture and overall function. You may be able to retrain your legs for the repetitive walking motion. Your abilities following gait training depend on the extent of your injuries.

The intensity of training and duration depend on the abilities you have before the treatment. In addition to spinal cord injuries, patients with broken legs, lower limb amputations or joint injuries may benefit from gait training. Symptoms from neurological disorders and brain injuries may also improve with gait training.