Walking is an extraordinarily complex task requiring integration of the entire nervous system, making gait susceptible to a variety of underlying neurologic abnormalities. Gait disorders are particularly prevalent in the elderly and increase fall risk. In this review we discuss an approach to the examination of gait and highlight key features of common gait disorders and their underlying causes. We review gaits due to lesions of motor systems (spasticity and neuromuscular weakness), the cerebellum and sensory systems (ataxia), parkinsonism, and frontal lobes and discuss the remarkably diverse phenomenology of functional (psychogenic) gait disorders. We offer a pragmatic approach to the diagnosis and management of neurologic gait disorders, because prompt recognition and intervention may improve quality of life in affected individuals.
Keywords: Ataxia; Foot drop; Frontal gait; Functional movement disorder; Gait disorders; Parkinsonism; Spasticity.
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