SCIENTISTS are trying to capture the essence of the "Essex swagger" as part of a project to analyse local walking styles.

Medical researchers at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford have set up a gait analysis laboratory, the first of its kind in the UK.

They are appealing for members of the public to come forward to help them detect the subtle differences in walking styles.

The results will be used to develop better treatment for a range of patients.

The gait of Essex volunteers will be compared to samples taken by the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, highlighting the difference geographic location plays.

Dr Rajshree Mootanah, director of the medical engineering research group, believes the people of Essex are likely to have a different gait to New Yorkers.

He said: "When we are working with patients it is important to have a reference database of 'normal' gait to compare them to.

"The only database we have is of the New York population and we believe there may be slight but still significant differences to the way our local population walks due to the different racial make-up of the two groups."

The information gathered will allow more accurate testing and analysis of patients, ranging from burns victims to those who have undergone hip or knee surgery.

Dr Mootanah said: "The volunteers will have the force of their steps measured by special pressure plates embedded in the floor while their gait will be recorded by 3D motion capture, which is similar to the systems used by the CGI departments of Hollywood studios."

Volunteers must be aged over 18 and able to walk without impediment.