A 3D analysis of fore- and hindlimb motion during locomotion: comparison of overground and ladder walking in rats

Behav Brain Res. 2008 Jan 10;186(1):57-65. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2007.07.023. Epub 2007 Jul 21.


The locomotor pattern, generated by the central pattern generator, is under the dependence of descending and peripheral pathways. The afferent feedback from peripheral receptors allows the animal to correct for disturbances that occur during walking, while supraspinal structures are important for locomotion in demanding situations such as ladder walking. Such walking, by regards to the control needed for accuracy of movements, is now widely used for description of consequences of nervous system dysfunction on motor performance. It is important to have a good knowledge of the changes in kinematic parameters according to walking conditions, since it might reflect different neural mechanisms. The aim of this work was to perform a 3D kinematic analysis of both hind- and forelimb during overground and ladder walking, to study qualitative and quantitative locomotor characteristics in different modes of locomotion. The analysis was performed on 5 rats. Movements of the right hind- and forelimb were evaluated using a 3D optical analyser, and EMG of the soleus and tibialis anterior muscles was synchronously recorded. Results indicate that kinematic and electromyographic characteristics of locomotion are dependent on the type of support. Changes were more obvious for hindlimb than for forelimb. Velocity, stride length and tibialis anterior burst duration were lower on ladder than on runway. In addition, during ladder walking, a protraction was noticed, rats bring their feet more rostral at the end of the swing phase. All these changes constitute an adaptive strategy to allow a better tactile activity with forelimbs and to avoid foot misplacement.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / instrumentation
  • Electromyography
  • Forelimb / physiology*
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Hindlimb / physiology*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surface Properties
  • Walking / physiology*