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Stroke Research and Treatment
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 410972, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/410972
Research Article

Gait Impairment in a Rat Model of Focal Cerebral Ischemia

1Department of Neurology, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, Yliopistonranta 1 C, 70210 Kuopio, Finland
2A. I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, 70210 Kuopio, Finland
3Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, 40014 Jyväskylä, Finland

Received 5 October 2012; Revised 17 December 2012; Accepted 27 December 2012

Academic Editor: Gerlinde Metz

Copyright © 2013 Saara Parkkinen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The availability of proper tests for gait evaluation following cerebral ischemia in rats has been limited. The automated, quantitative CatWalk system, which was initially designed to measure gait in models of spinal cord injury, neuropathic pain, and peripheral nerve injury, is said to be a useful tool for the study of motor impairment in stroke animals. Here we report our experiences of using CatWalk XT with rats subjected to transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO), during their six-week followup. Large corticostriatal infarct was confirmed by MRI in all MCAO rats, which was associated with severe sensorimotor impairment. In contrast, the gait impairment was at most mild, which is consistent with seemingly normal locomotion of MCAO rats. Many of the gait parameters were affected by body weight, walking speed, and motivation despite the use of a goal box. In addition, MCAO rats showed bilateral compensation, which was developed to stabilize proper locomotion. All of these interferences may confound the data interpretation. Taken together, the translational applicability of CatWalk XT in evaluating motor impairment and treatment efficacy remains to be limited at least in rats with severe corticostriatal infarct and loss of body weight.