Quantitative gait analysis is useful in objective assessment of walking ability as well as identifying the underlying causes for walking abnormalities in patients with cerebral palsy, Parkinson disease, stroke, head or spinal cord injury, and other neuromuscular problems. Over the years many different methods are developed to analyze gait in laboratory animals, ranging from scoring spontaneous open field locomotion to more sophisticated methods using contact electrode recordings, footprint analysis, kinetics, 2D and 3D kinematics, and CatWalk™. The current research focuses on CatWalk as a method to analyze and quantify locomotion in a model of spinal cord injury (SCI). The parameters measured by CatWalk, in particular measures for coordination, are used to test the behavioral implications of voluntary locomotor training induced by enriched housing facilities.
Spinal cord injured rats were either kept in an enriched environment or housed individually in normal cages. Several CatWalk parameters showed a positive effect of enriched housing after spinal cord injury. The reacher was able to pin-point important functional improvements with respect to interlimb coordination as induced by enriched housing.