How Many Halt?

August 12th, 2009 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Surely my trivial enlightenment is akin to noticing your new car model everywhere. Since my leg break and prolonged recovery, I have noticed limpers everywhere too.

It seems more obvious in the naked. Slacks disguise mild claudication, but bare, you are there.

This is clear in the large men’s locker room of the West Roxbury Y and almost as obvious in the main workout and weight rooms, where little shorts are the norm. I recently sat on the SciFit machine and tallied the men, sorting into limpers and straight gait guys.

Nearly 35% limped to some degree.  Only a few had canes and only one of over 100 had crutches.

Are we a nation of gait enfeebled and I never noticed it until I was? Likely.

A quick search of ye olde internet didn’t give me anything definitive on percentage of adults who limp. I did find a considerable list of medical conditions that can cause asymmetrical anomaly of gait (if you have numbers, fill in the Wikipedia stub).  Everything from brain tumors to being a porker to injuries like mine can cause limping. The list is so long and variety, I’m surprised that we don’t all limp.

My father, whom I did not grow up with, limped and got a new knee. He earned that through decades of obesity. Unlike guys at the gym I know with new hips or knees, he was very proud of his. He convinced his surgeon to give him a sample of the replacement knee, which he kept handy in his own sort of natural history museum, along with a whale vertebra and a piece of tanned human scalp among other freak show-style artifacts.

In terms of research, I did run across numerous of those conditions with their own papers. For example, consider anterior hip pain. The American Academy of Family Physicians published a piece by the University of Washington’s Dr. John O’Kane that described it with wince-producing precision. He said that up to 40% of us 18 years or older have bilateral injuries. That could cause limping.

Thinking to the overlapping possible conditions, we should be surprised that most of us don’t have obvious limps.

Anthropologists and medical types alike are wont to comment that humans were not built for walking upright. Yet we insist on doing it. I suppose you can say if you believe in the Genesis creation tale that you might have designed humans better.

It’s too late for that. The best I can hope for now is that the many of us with some limp become less obvious to me. It’s plain distracting.

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One Response

  1. Uncle says:

    We could have a Western for the aging Boomer era: “Geezersmoke.” Everybody limps except Chester.

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