Handb Clin Neurol 2018 ;159:417-423
Department of Neurology, St. George's, University of London, London, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Functional (psychogenic) gait disorders are a common presentation of functional neurological disorder - one of the commonest diagnoses made in neurology practice. People with functional neurological disorder are as disabled and experience as poor a quality of life as patients with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. People with functional neurological disorder, including gait disorder, are often perceived as being challenging to diagnose and manage, and as a result attitudes of health professionals towards them are often negative. However, a rapid positive diagnosis of functional gait disorder can often be made, and with a specific approach to diagnostic explanation and treatment, many patients experience improvement in symptoms and disability, with such improvements sustained in the long term. Here I review current evidence regarding the diagnosis, pathophysiology and management of functional gait disturbance with an emphasis on how to make a positive diagnosis and how to select the most appropriate treatment approach. Rehabilitative treatments, with an emphasis on specific physiotherapy interventions, have increasing evidence for benefit, particularly if carried out following a comprehensive explanation of the diagnosis.