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Walking principles

To walk is a skill most people consider as a natural phenomenon and therefore do not really think about. Learning to walk is a long process, which lasts over 3-4 years, starting with few uncontrolled steps ending up as a controlled skill. Walking is the simplest way for a person to move. The whole body is involved, skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, heart, lungs etc. Children with special needs can have difficulties in walking for various reasons, they must therefore be guided and stimulated in taking their first steps. Walking can give a child the opportunity of getting around, socializing and interacting with it’s peers.

Walking can:

  • improve bone density
  • decrease joint contractures
  • improve cardiopulmonary function
  • improve digestion
  • increase leg muscle strength
  • decrease spasticity
  • improve hip development
  • promote psychological wellness

In normal development the child starts crawling at eight months, standing at ten months and walking at 12-15 months. At R82 we recommend that children with special needs get their first gait trainer at around the time an able bodied child would start to weight bear on their legs and are ready to take their first steps. The human way of walking differs from person to person but the mechanical process is the same. This process is important to know because this is what we aim for when teaching a child to walk.

Start walking:

Putting the weight on one leg, leaning forward to unbalance the body (the center of gravity falls in front of the body’s plumb line), swinging the other leg forward and placing it on the ground in front of the body’s center of gravity (it becomes the supporting leg), lifting the first leg from the floor and swinging it . forward...

During the walk:

Rotation of the hip, tilting of the pelvis, body shifting from side to side and swinging of the arms, to name just a few. All these movements happen in order to keep the balance of the body centered around the midline.