Using the MouseWalker to Quantify Locomotor Dysfunction in a Mouse Model of Spinal Cord Injury

Ana Filipa Isidro, Alexandra M. Medeiros, Isaura Martins, Dalila Neves-Silva, Leonor Saúde, César S. Mendes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The execution of complex and highly coordinated motor programs, such as walking and running, is dependent on the rhythmic activation of spinal and supra-spinal circuits. After a thoracic spinal cord injury, communication with upstream circuits is impaired. This, in turn, leads to a loss of coordination, with limited recovery potential. Hence, to better evaluate the degree of recovery after the administration of drugs or therapies, there is a necessity for new, more detailed, and accurate tools to quantify gait, limb coordination, and other fine aspects of locomotor behavior in animal models of spinal cord injury. Several assays have been developed over the years to quantitatively assess free-walking behavior in rodents; however, they usually lack direct measurements related to stepping gait strategies, footprint patterns, and coordination. To address these shortcomings, an updated version of the MouseWalker, which combines a frustrated total internal reflection (fTIR) walkway with tracking and quantification software, is provided. This open-source system has been adapted to extract several graphical outputs and kinematic parameters, and a set of post-quantification tools can be to analyze the output data provided. This manuscript also demonstrates how this method, allied with already established behavioral tests, quantitatively describes locomotor deficits following spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere65207
JournalJournal of visualized experiments : JoVE
Issue number193
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2023


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