Introduction: Lesions of peripheral nerves cause loss of motor and sensory function and also lead to hyperreflexia and hyperalgesia. Activity-dependent therapies promote axonal regeneration and functional recovery and may improve sensory-motor coordination and restoration of adequate circuitry at the spinal level. Methods: We compared the effects of passive (bicycle) and active (treadmill) exercise on nerve regeneration and modulation of the spinal H reflex after transection and repair of the rat sciatic nerve. Animals were evaluated during 2 months using electrophysiological, functional, and histological methods. Results: Moderate exercise for 1 hour/day, either active treadmill walking or passive cycling, improved muscle reinnervation, increased the number of regenerated axons in the distal nerve, and reduced the increased excitability of spinal reflexes after nerve lesion. Discussion: Maintenance of denervated muscle activity and afferent input, by active or passive exercise, may increase trophic factor release to act on regenerating axons and to modulate central neuronal plasticity. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Nerve regeneration
- Spinal reflexes