Toe Walking and Cerebral Palsy
Most children start to walk within the second year of their lives. What starts out as a few tentative steps becomes a confident gait later in life. Today we discuss “toe walking,” and how it may point to cerebral palsy.
Toe walking is a somewhat common occurrence for children who are just learning to walk. However, toe walking (if continued unabated) could indicate that your child may have hypertonic (and/or spastic) cerebral palsy. Children born with this disorder usually have tight and wound up muscles. This makes it hard for them to move around or interact with their environment. If your child exhibits toe walking, it’s recommended you bring this up with your child’s doctor.
Toe walking in children with spastic CP points to tight tendons around the Achilles heel which means that the child won’t be able to comfortably place the sole of their foot on their ground. Additionally, children with spastic hemiplegia or spastic diplegia may complain of generalized pain or may have problems with coordination and fine motor skills.
There are various treatments which target toe walking in spastic hemiplegia. It’s important to consult with a qualified doctor as soon as possible because early intervention will make a huge difference when it comes to managing and treating the condition.
One of the most common treatment forms is physical therapy. With the help of an appointed physical therapist, your child can have parts his foot and heel stretched in order to relax and tone muscles in that area. Additionally, they may need to wear a foot brace which keeps the foot at a 90 degree position. This is a long-term thing so they may need to wear the brace up until a time when the problem is resolved. Other solutions include surgery and serial casting.
Toe walking may be a normal part of a child’s development. However, if your child continues to walk on their toes for extended periods of time, you may want to have a health professional look into it. Spastic cerebral palsy can be managed, and the earlier this management starts, the better.