What’s the cause of this abnormal gait?

An equine gait, or steppage gait, occurs when a person has bilateral foot drop, making it difficult to raise the feet and toes off the floor while walking. To compensate, the patient has to raise the leg higher to clear the foot from the floor, and the foot hangs downward while walking. See the video below for an example:

Foot drop is most commonly due to which? (scroll down for the answer)

  • Tibial nerve injury
  • Peroneal nerve injury
  • Obturator nerve injury
  • Femoral nerve injury

The most common cause of foot drop is due to injury of the common peroneal nerve at the fibular head, although sciatic nerve injuries or an L5 radiculopathy can also cause foot drop. Bilateral foot drop, as in the video, suggests an underlying predisposition to developing peripheral neuropathy. A common condition leading to multiple peripheral neuropathies is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, also known as Hereditary Motor Sensory Neuropathy (HMSN).

This series of photographs by
Eadweard Muybridge from 1878 was the first series of high speed photographs to show a horse in motion – a true analysis of equine gait.

Update: Dr. Sattin, author of the Ghost of Charcot neurology blog, has published a nice post about gait disorders, including the collaboration between Eadweard Muybraidge and Dr. Francis Dercum, a Philadelphia neurologist.

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