Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are a health care professional

honeypot link

How to Assess Gait, Stance, and Coordination


George Newman

, MD, PhD, Albert Einstein Medical Center

Last full review/revision May 2020
Click here for Patient Education
Topic Resources

Normal gait, stance, and coordination require integrity of the motor, vestibular, cerebellar, and proprioceptive pathways (see also Movement and Cerebellar Disorders Movement and Cerebellar Disorders read more ). A lesion in any of the pathways causes characteristic deficits:

  • Patients with cerebellar ataxia require a wide gait for stability.

  • Footdrop causes a steppage gait (lifting the leg higher than normal to avoid catching the foot on surface irregularities).

  • Pelvic muscle weakness causes waddling.

  • Spastic leg causes scissoring and circumduction.

  • Patients with impaired proprioception must constantly observe placement of their feet to avoid tripping or falling.

Coordination can be tested with finger-to-nose or knee-to-shin maneuvers, which help detect ataxic movements.

Click here for Patient Education
NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: Click here for the Consumer Version
Professionals also read
Test your knowledge
Vascular Dementia
Dementia is chronic and global deterioration of cognition. Delirium also involves disturbances in cognition. Which of the following characteristics best differentiates delirium from dementia?
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest