Force plate analysis. Does training matter?
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Force plate analysis (FPA) is a valuable method in veterinary medicine to study normal and abnormal gait. This method allows us to measure and study the forces involved in gait (ground reaction forces). Ground reaction forces (GRFs) can be influenced by many factors, such as velocity and morphometric differences. The present study evaluated the effects of a force plate-specific training on the GRFs in Beagles. Eight healthy Beagles were used to obtain the measurements. Dogs were measured before (M1) and after (M2) the training regime. The conventional parameters peak, impulse, pelvic-thoracic ratio and symmetry index were evaluated for the Fz, Fy+, and Fy-. In addition, novel parameters describing the variation in GRF measurements (error parameters) for Fz, Fy+ and Fy- were assessed. No significant differences between M1 and M2 were found for the peak, impulse, pelvic-thoracic ratio and symmetry index. Significant decreases were found for all error parameters. It may be concluded that FPA provides reliable measurements without a training regime when assessing the conventional parameters. Incorporating a training regime in force plate studies may result in a reduction in variance and consequently, smaller differences in gait may be detected and a smaller number of measurements per dog may be needed to obtain reliable data.