Sunday, October 8, 2017

Questions America Wants Answered: "Why Does Vladimir Putin Walk So Weird?"

From Today I Found Out, Sept. 12:

Zach L. asks: Why does Vladimir Putin walk with one arm moving and the other stuck at his side?
While there is no single correct way to walk, most of us have a gait where we swing each arm forward when its opposing leg moves forward; likewise, as with the length of the stride, which is generally the same for both legs, the distance of the arm swing is usually about the same for both the left and right arms. While exactly why humans do this hasn’t yet been definitively proven (with the most popular theory being that, while not essential, it’s mostly about improving balance and decreasing angular momentum of the body), the fact remains that this is how the vast majority of humans all over the world walk… But not so with Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation.

For those who’ve never seen Putin’s rather odd walk, as is more common, when Putin walks, his left arm swings freely forward with his right leg stride. However, when his left leg strides forward, his right arm barely moves at all, remaining nearly still and close to his torso. This has resulted in some idly speculating that maybe there is some neurological cause for the gait, perhaps even a sign of Putin being in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, as reduced arm swing is a potential early indicator (though generally with tremors in the limb or other such additional indicators as well). (Incidentally: The Man Who Parkinson’s Disease is Named After Was Implicated in a Plot to Assassinate King George III.) Others have speculated Erb’s palsy or even a minor stroke might be the underlying cause.

The problem with all of these hypotheses is that Putin not only has full use of his right arm and hand for day to day activities like writing, eating, etc., but even likes to show off his prodigious Judo skills, as well as strength in weightlifting. In both cases, the right hand and arm seemingly show no sign of weakness, tremors, etc. Combined with the fact that Putin’s had this gait for many years without change, this all seemingly rules out any of the aforementioned potential causes.

So what’s going on? Well, thankfully as Putin himself has never commented on it as far as we can find, a team of doctors, led by movement disorder specialist Dr. Bastiaan Bloem, decided to look into the matter, publishing their paper on the subject in the British Medical Journal in 2015. In it, they came up with an intriguing and quite probable hypothesis as to why Putin walks this way....MUCH MORE
See also the Run-D.M.C./Aerosmith 1986 collaboration: