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Assessing forelimb function after unilateral cervical spinal cord injury: novel forelimb tasks predict lesion severity and recovery

Cervical spinal cord injury (cSCI) can cause devastating neurological deficits, including impairment or loss of upper limb and hand function. Recently there has been increasing interest in cervical spinal cord injury models because the majority of spinal cord injuries are at cervical levels. Here we examined spontaneous functional recovery of adult rats with either laminectomy or lateral hemisection of the cervical spinal cord at C3-C4. Behavioral tests were carried out, including the forelimb locomotor scale (FLS), a postural instability test (PIT), a pasta-handling test that has been used to assess forepaw digit function and latency to eat, forelimb use during vertical-lateral wall exploration in a cylindrical enclosure, and vibrissae-elicited forelimb placing tests. In addition, a forelimb step-alternation test was developed to assess functional recovery at 12 weeks post-injury. All tests detected cSCI-induced deficits relative to laminectomy. Interestingly, the severity of deficits in the forelimb step-alternation test was associated with more extensive spinal damage, greater impairment, and less recovery in the FLS and other tests. For the pasta-handling test we found that rats with a milder cervical injury (alternators) were more likely to use both forepaws together compared to rats with a more severe injury (non-alternators). In addition, using the PIT, we detected enhanced function of the good limb, suggesting that neural plasticity on the unaffected side of the spinal cord may have occurred to compensate for deficits in the impaired forelimb. These outcome measures should be useful for investigating neural events associated with cSCI, and for developing novel treatment strategies

Keywords : Adult,Analysis of Variance,Animals,Behavior,Animal,Biomedical Engineering,Cervical Vertebrae,etiology,Feeding Behavior,Female,Forelimb,Functional Laterality,Hand,injuries,innervation,Laminectomy,Locomotion,Movement,Pain,pathology,physiology,physiopathology,Posture,Predictive Value of Tests,psychology,Pyramidal Tracts,Rats,Rats,Sprague-Dawley,Recovery of Function,Spinal Cord,Spinal Cord Injuries,Texas,Universities,Vibrissae,, Forelimb,Function,After,Unilateral,Cervical, stem cell treatment in london

Date of Publication : 2012 Feb 10

Authors : Khaing ZZ;Geissler SA;Jiang S;Milman BD;Aguilar SV;Schmidt CE;Schallert T;

Organisation : Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA

Journal of Publication : J Neurotrauma

Pubmed Link : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22022897

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