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Walking Difficulties

Injury to the brain can cause difficulty walking and even moving. People with brain injury related to trauma, stroke, cerebral palsy and other causes may have difficulty walking. Depending on the extent of the injury, walking difficulties can vary from mild to severe. A mild injury may lead to slightly decreased balance. A more moderate injury may lead to the need to use an assistive device such as a walker. With a severe injury, a person might not be able to walk at all, requiring a wheelchair.

Walking difficulties can be caused by weakness, decreased balance, spasticity, decreased sensation, or poor vision.

How can I improve my walking difficulties?

Strengthen weak muscles

Use an assistive device such as a cane or walker

Stretch tight muscles .

Use an ankle foot orthosis

Use Botox or Dysport injections for spasticity

Practice walking

To improve in any task, including walking, practice is extremely important. In the next section you will find people who can help you know what to practice. But practicing each day at home is the most important thing you can do to improve.

Who can help me walk or move better?

  • Physiatrists
    • Physiatrists (doctors specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) can help with figuring out how to help you walk or move better. A physiatrist can determine why you are having walking difficulties. Is it weakness, spasticity, decreased balance or another issue? He or she can then give you exercises, prescribe therapy, give injections for spasticity, prescribe a brace or determine if surgery might be helpful. Some physiatrists treat patients with brain injury and other physiatrists treat musculoskeletal conditions like back pain. Be sure that the physiatrist you see treats brain injury survivors.
  • Physical Therapists
    • Physical therapists help people improve their ability to walk and move after a brain injury. The goal of treatment with a physical therapist after brain injury is to improve your strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. They provide functional exercises so that you can improve control over your body as you move. They can give you a set of exercises to practice each day at home.