Gait just means the way you walk. In PT school, we were taught to look for certain things when evaluating someone’s gait. Well, after the stroke I was lucky to stand up. My gait – terrible to say the least. I could not walk unassisted (this means doing something without a PT holding onto you or using a cane, walker, etc.). The progression should go something like this – wheelchair to walker to cane to nothing. This is exactly what I did. At first I was wheeled around in a chair, I progressed quickly to a walker, used a cane for a while and now I walk completely unassisted. There is a lot of variation here – you’re going to do what you need to do. You might need an AFO(ankle foot orthotic) or other types of orthotics, braces,etc. I’ve said this before – I was very, very lucky in that I was able to walk soon after the stroke. It was pretty ugly, but I could do it. For a few months it felt like my right leg was lighter when I would walk. Lighter is the only way I can think of to describe it. I couldn’t get my right foot in the right place because of the ataxia. My right leg felt like it was going to float away. It doesn’t feel like that anymore.
Here’s a tip – when evaluating someone’s gait one thing I was taught to look for was what the trunk and arms are doing. The trunk should rotate slightly and the opposite arm should swing forward when a step is taken. So one thing I did that really helped is purposely swing my opposite arm forward when the leg took a step. I would exaggerate this movement. Normally, you shouldn’t have to think about this but after something happens to your gait, you’re going to have to think about everything.
Now, my gait isn’t normal but I can walk by myself. Can’t run yet though, that’s a goal of mine.