Health & Nutrition Health and Nutrition - February - Page 33

a visual impairment, and the side effects of medication. To determine what’s causing your gait change, your doctor will perform a comprehensive history and a physical exam and review your mediations. Reasons for abnormal gait change include: u Parkinson’s disease. Quick, short steps or shuffling, with the knees, hips, and spine bent, could suggest Parkinson’s disease or parkinsonism. Parkinsonism is a condition with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease that also affects gait. u Arthritis. Knee or hip arthritis can force you to change your gait, often in an effort to relieve pain as you walk. You may appear stiff; take short, slow steps; or seem unable to beat your body’s weight. u Back and neck problems. Lumbar spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the canal through which the spinal cord travels in the vertebrae of the lower back, can affect gait. Spinal cord compression in the neck region (cervical spondylotic myelopathy) can interfere with gait and cause loss of balance and co-ordination and also result in ‘foot drop’, a weakness in the ankle muscles that causes the toe to drag while walking. Foot drop is sometimes accompanied by a high change in n e d d u s A pparent a o n h it gait w ormal n t o n is cause s to be d e e n d n a a doctor y b d e t a evalu y. Often, a w a t h ig r nges a h c it a g , however tle and b u s e r o are m ually as d a r g p lo deve chronic a f o lt u s a re ndition. o c l a ic d me PUTTING GAIT TO THE TEST Your doctor can sometimes get a good idea of what’s causing your gait problem by watching the way you move. He or she may ask you to perform various movements and perhaps time you while you do them. In the Timed Get Up and Go test, you get up from a chair without using your hands, walk 3 meters (about 10 feet), turn, and return to sit back down. You should be able to complete the action in about 10 seconds. If you take 14 seconds or more, it’s considered abnormal, and you have an increased risk of falling. lifting of the leg to avoid catching the toe on the ground. u Other orthopaedic problems. Lower-extremity surgery or trauma, such as a fracture, can cause a deviation from normal gait. u A vitamin B 12 deficiency. A stagger or an unsteady EXERCISING FOR BETTER POSTURE, STRENGTH AND A LONGER LIFE Here’s a start-up strength programme for older adults: A five-minute warm up of walking or stationary bike riding, rowing, or using a stair-stepping machine: u Two sets of 10 wall push-ups: Stand a little more than arm’s length away from a wall, lean forward slightly and place your palms flat on the wall about shoulder- width apart. Slowly bend your elbows so that your chest approaches the wall. Pause and then slowly return to the starting position without locking your elbows. u Two sets of 10 squats: Stand in front of an armless chair, to prevent you from falling backward, with your arms parallel to the ground. Slowly lower yourself to a near-sitting position, pause, and then slowly stand. u Two sets of 10 toe raises: Keep a hand on a counter or chair for balance and then rise up on the balls of your feet for a count of 20 and then slowly lower your heels to the ground. HEALTH & NUTRITION February 2018 33