Learning to walk is a fundamental milestone for all children. Some children, however, need some additional help reaching this milestone. Easterseals’ LiteGait program is designed to help children learn (or re-learn) to walk more easily, faster, and with more confidence. The LiteGait system addresses the needs of children learning or re-learning to walk through a specialized body-weight support system that provides a safe, supported environment where children can learn (or relearn, in the case of injury or surgery) basic walking skills. Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Central Illinois in the amount of $12,500, we can purchase this system to assist the children in Central Illinois in reaching this important milestone.
It uses a mechanical system and a harness to support the individual and control balance and posture over a treadmill or over the ground. Using the LiteGait over a treadmill allows clients to practice walking over an “endless walkway”. The therapist doesn’t have to worry about having to stop a child’s walking because they came to the end of a hallway and now have to turn around or worry about balance.
Using the harness, the child is totally supported, so there is no risk of falling. The LiteGait provides therapists with an extra set of hands during therapy sessions. In this way, the therapist can assist with the child’s leg movement over a longer distance and for a longer period of time.
The child gets to practice walking in a way that cannot be done without this support. Essentially, they can walk farther and faster when supported over the treadmill than they can otherwise. This helps children progress to walking with a walker, or alone if possible, recover from surgery or injury, or build endurance. It can also improve their gait patterns, so they can walk with better balance and control. Medical research supports the use of body weight-supported gait training for children with cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, and children and adults with various conditions and disabilities.