Each individual makes progress in therapy at his/her own pace. Some people may learn to walk well in a few months; others may take years to be able to walk just for exercise. Still others may never undergo gait training.
It is important for all people to remain active and healthy. This can include eating well, pushing your wheelchair, working out with adaptive machines in your local gym, team sports, or any other kind of physical and social activity you can do safely.
The ability to walk after a spinal cord injury depends on many factors including your:
A physical therapist (PT) or other clinician will determine if gait training is right for you by using a variety of tests.
Gait training can require a lot of work and be a long process, so it is important for your PT or other clinician to tell you what you can expect. Some people work on balance and other “pre-gait” activities many times a week for many months before they start actual gait training (involving walking). Pre-gait activities include stretching, strengthening, weight bearing, balance training, and coordination training to get ready for walking.
Gait training may not be appropriate for you if:
The physician and therapist will want to make sure you are safe before starting gait training and during the training. It would be far worse to fall and hurt yourself, setting yourself back, than to continue safely with therapy. Over time your condition may change, affecting whether gait training is right for you.