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Walking requires coordination, balance, strength, and endurance – it’s a complex skill. Damage to the brain or nerves from a stroke or brain injury can affect your walking ability. Gait training is necessary for patients to regain the ability to walk, involving exercises and methods to improve walking function and mechanics.

The objectives of gait training include:

  • Regain full range of motion and flexibility in the leg joints and muscles.
  • Enhance leg and core muscle strength and stability.
  • Enhance body and limb balance and coordination.
  • Enhance the brain and nerve’s neuroplasticity and healing.

Gait training exercises can be performed at home, in a clinic, with or without a physical therapist or device. To improve walking, consider incorporating these common exercises:

  • From a chair or a bed, you can perform seated marching as an exercise. The exercise involves lifting one leg as high as possible and then lowering it. This helps improve the hip and knee flexion, which are essential for swinging the leg forward during walking.
  • Stand on one leg and use a stable support, like a wall or railing, for the flamingo stance. It enhances the balance and stability of the standing leg while also strengthening the hip and ankle of the lifted leg.
  • To do knee kicks, sit on a chair or bed and straighten one leg at a time, then bend it back. It enhances knee extension, a crucial element for leg stability while walking.
  • To perform heel and toe raises, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and alternate lifting your heels or toes off the ground. It enhances ankle dorsiflexion and plantar flexion, crucial for walking.
  • Sit to stand involves sitting on a chair or bed, standing up without using the arms, and then sitting back down. It enhances leg and core muscle strength, as well as body coordination.

These exercises can be beneficial for relearning walking after a stroke or brain injury. However, the needs and challenges of each patient can vary based on the type and severity of their injury. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with a physical therapist for a personalized gait training plan that fits their goals and capabilities.

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