Gait Disorders

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Houston Methodist provides patients with gait disorder the most effective treatment — based on the latest clinical advances — to restore confidence, increase independence and improve quality of life.

Houston Methodist’s integrated rehabilitation and neurology team is uniquely positioned to diagnose and treat even the most complex gait disorders. We collaborate to offer comprehensive therapies that cover the neurological, physical and emotional aspects of living with movement disorders.

Gait and balance problems can be caused by neurological disorders, muscle weakness or underlying conditions such as arthritis. Our integrated specialists can help reduce the risk of falls, increase your motor control and improve your symptoms, safely and effectively. 

Diagnosing & Treating Gait Disorders

How are gait disorders diagnosed

Our movement disorder experts will conduct a detailed medical history, including a discussion of your family and personal history of symptoms such as:


  • Propulsive gait – a stooped, stiff posture with the head and neck bent forward that can be caused by Parkinson’s disease, toxins such as carbon monoxide poisoning or certain medications such as Haloperidol.
  • Scissors gait – the legs flex slightly at the hips and knees like you are crouching, and the knees and thighs hit or cross in a scissors-like movement. This gait can be caused by conditions such as traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, stroke or cerebral palsy.
  • Spastic gait – a stiff walk with a foot that drags due to contraction of a long muscle on one side of the body. This gait can be caused by other brain injuries or neurological conditions.
  • Steppage gait – when the foot drops, hanging with the toes pointing downward. The toes scrape the ground, and patients need to use a walker to lift their legs higher while walking. This condition can be caused by Guillain-Barre syndrome, multiple sclerosis or a spinal cord injury.
  • Waddling gait – a duck-like walk that may appear in childhood or later in life. This gait can be caused by muscular dystrophy or spinal muscle weakness.


Next, we will perform a physical and neurological examination to assess your cognitive abilities, movement control and underlying conditions, if any. Depending on your results, we may request MRI and CT scans to locate lesions that might be causing your symptoms.

What treatment options are available?

Once we understand the cause of your gait disorder, we will create a customized treatment plan that focuses on reducing your risk of falls, strengthening your muscles and improving any cognitive deficits. Physical therapy is key in restoring balance and improving overall strength. If your condition arose from or has caused emotional challenges, you may benefit from counseling. 

Houston Methodist neurologists will partner with you in long-term disease management. Using innovative gait monitoring devices, we can identify subtle changes that occur over time, document how therapy improves your symptoms and make adjustments, based on your personal health goals.

I need advanced care or a second opinion.

Houston Methodist is your partner in expert diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. Our recommendations are based on years of experience with movement disorders. We provide compassionate care and comprehensive treatment options, including clinical trial therapies    that are not yet widely available at other centers.

Gait disorder symptoms and treatment needs can change over time. Our neurologists are part of a multidisciplinary team that tailors care plans to every patient’s unique condition.

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Houston Methodist is leading the way in new research to find innovative treatment options.

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