The ladder rung walking task: a scoring system and its practical application

J Vis Exp. 2009 Jun 12;(28):1204. doi: 10.3791/1204.

Abstract

Progress in the development of animal models for/stroke, spinal cord injury, and other neurodegenerative disease requires tests of high sensitivity to elaborate distinct aspects of motor function and to determine even subtle loss of movement capacity. To enhance efficacy and resolution of testing, tests should permit qualitative and quantitative measures of motor function and be sensitive to changes in performance during recovery periods. The present study describes a new task to assess skilled walking in the rat to measure both forelimb and hindlimb function at the same time. Animals are required to walk along a horizontal ladder on which the spacing of the rungs is variable and is periodically changed. Changes in rung spacing prevent animals from learning the absolute and relative location of the rungs and so minimize the ability of the animals to compensate for impairments through learning. In addition, changing the spacing between the rungs allows the test to be used repeatedly in long-term studies. Methods are described for both quantitative and qualitative description of both fore- and hindlimb performance, including limb placing, stepping, co-ordination. Furthermore, use of compensatory strategies is indicated by missteps or compensatory steps in response to another limb's misplacement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Models, Animal*
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Rats / physiology*
  • Walking / physiology*