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Sporadic (SSP) and hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSP) are clinically and genetically heterogeneous disorders, which are characterised by a slowly progressive spastic paraparesis. Initial symptoms and the rate of progression are variable even among members of the same family. Spastic paraparesis is the major and most disabling clinical symptom and was assessed with gait analysis using a three-dimensional infrared movement analysis system.22 patients with clinically and/or genetically confirmed SSP/HSP were compared with age-matched control subjects. Significantly lower values were found for gait velocity, stride length, step height and the range of motion of the knee-angle. The gait pattern is characterised by a severe spasticity of both legs with only mild paresis. The balance-related gait parameters show a broad-based gait without inwardly rotated feet. No correlation was found between disease duration and the severity of the gait disorder and the central motor conduction time to the leg muscles and the abnormal gait parameters. The gait pattern did not differ between the 7 SSP cases and the 15 HSP cases.We conclude that three-dimensional gait analysis can uncover specific features of such rare gait disorders, and may be used as an objective tool to quantify the impairment of gait parameters in patients with SSP/HSP and thus can be used to monitor disease progression and the effect of therapeutic interventions.