We describe an instrument that assesses two features of the gait of rats, spatiotemporal paw movement variables (SPMV) and ground reaction forces (GRF) in the vertical direction. The GRF and the SPMV variables are measured electrically by eight single axis load-cells that support two floor plates. We can derive four gait parameters from the SPMV and GRF measured by the instrument: the stride length of individual limbs, the maximum and mean vertical ground forces, and the intensity of the vibrations created by each paw during locomotion. Measurements of the vertical GRF show errors of less than 3.5%; errors in the determination of the paw positions, used to derive stride lengths, are less than 9 mm. Here we report the stride length, maximum and mean GRF values, and the intensity of the floor vibrations of healthy adult mature rats. Our instrument is capable of evaluating changes in these gait parameters in rat models of injury and disease.

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