After a brain injury or stroke, one common side effect is difficulty walking. Gait issues can include balance deficits, decreased strength, visual impairments, and altered proprioception (sensing the position, orientation, and movement of the body and its parts), which makes navigating uneven surfaces very challenging.
Pate has many advanced technologies to improve walking skills. One of the more inventive therapies is an outdoor gait training course at our Brinlee Creek Ranch. The mobility course allows patients to confront, and master, obstacles in a safe and therapeutic environment. It prepares people to return to the real world, not another treatment floor, by simulating the actual conditions people will encounter on sidewalks, stairs and steps, in all different states of repair.
The mobility course includes 12 steps, a simulated curb, and three pits of various uneven surfaces – sand, pebbles, and stamped concrete. These surfaces are examples of what a patient might encounter when shopping, going out to eat, or attending a sporting event.
Usually gait practice takes place on a smooth, carpeted or hardwood surface indoors. On the outdoor course, people practice walking on rough and uneven terrain. They also learn to adjust moving between them which can be the hardest part.
As you see, the stairs at right are modified with yellow visual cues which helps people judge the height of steps and where to land their feet.
Practice makes perfect – or much improved! The gait training course is a safe, private method of walking training that offers close supervision in the beautiful setting of trees and blue skies.
With almost 96 acres of space, we had plenty of room to construct the course and take advantage of great weather nearly year round. It’s another way to help improve a patient’s mobility at home and in the community, and increase their confidence level.