Gait cycle analysis parameters sensitive for functional evaluation of peripheral nerve recovery in rat hind limbs

Jing Rui, M. Brett Runge, Robert J. Spinner, Michael J. Yaszemski, Anthony J. Windebank, Huan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Video-assisted gait kinetics analysis has been a sensitive method to assess rat sciatic nerve function after injury and repair. However, in conduit repair of sciatic nerve defects, previously reported kinematic measurements failed to be a sensitive indicator because of the inferior recovery and inevitable joint contracture.

Objective: This study aimed to explore the role of physiotherapy in mitigating joint contracture and to seek motion analysis indices that can sensitively ref lect motor function.

Methods: Data were collected from 26 rats that underwent sciatic nerve transection and conduit repair. Regular postoperative physiotherapy was applied. Parameters regarding step length, phase duration, and ankle angle were acquired and analyzed from video recording of gait kinetics preoperatively and at regular postoperative intervals.

Results: Stride length ratio (step length of uninjured foot/step length of injured foot), percent swing of the normal paw (percentage of the total stride duration when the uninjured paw is in the air), propulsion angle (toe-off angle subtracted by midstance angle), and clearance angle (ankle angle change from toe off to midswing) decreased postoperatively comparing with baseline values. The gradual recovery of these measurements had a strong correlation with the postYnerve repair time course.

Conclusions: Ankle joint contracture persisted despite rigorous physiotherapy. Parameters acquired from a 2-dimensional motion analysis system, that is, stride length ratio, percent swing of the normal paw, propulsion angle, and clearance angle, could sensitively ref lect nerve function impairment and recovery in the rat sciatic nerve conduit repair model despite the existence of joint contractures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-411
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of plastic surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Gait cycle
  • Kinematics
  • Nerve regeneration
  • Rat
  • Sciatic nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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