Long-term rehabilitation reduces task error variability in cervical spinal cord contused rats

Olaia Baylo-Marín, África Flores, Guillermo García-Alías*

*Autor correspondiente de este trabajo

Producción científica: Contribución a una revistaArtículoInvestigaciónrevisión exhaustiva

2 Citas (Scopus)


To promote skilled forelimb function following a spinal cord injury, we have evaluated whether long-term voluntary sensorimotor rehabilitation can promote substantial reaching and grasping recovery. Long-Evans rats were trained to reach single pellets and then received a moderate 100 kdyn contusion to the C5 lateral funiculi. During the first eight months post-injury, a group of animals was enrolled in daily skilled reaching rehabilitation consisting of grabbing and manipulating seeds from the bottom of a grid. Single-pellet reaching and grasping recovery was tested biweekly throughout the functional follow-up and the recovery was compared to a second group of contused but non-rehabilitated animals. Following the injury, reaching and grasping success dropped to zero in both groups and remained absent for three months post-injury, followed by a slight recovery that remained constant until the end of the follow-up. No differences in reaching success were found between groups. Nevertheless, the type of gesture errors in the failed attempts were categorized and scored. The errors ranged from the animal's inability to lift the paw and initiate the movement to the final stage of the attempt, in which the pellet falls during grasping and retraction of the paw towards the mouth. Both groups of animals exhibited similar types of errors but the animals with rehabilitation showed less error variability and those that occurred at the latest stages of the attempt predominated compared to those performed by the non-trained animals. Histological examination of the injury showed that injury severity was similar between groups and that the damage was circumscribed to the site of impact, affecting mainly the dorsal and medial region of the lateral funiculi, with preservation of the dorsal component of the corticospinal tract and the interneurons and motoneurons of the spinal segments beyond the site of injury. The results indicate that activity-dependent plasticity driven by voluntary rehabilitation decreases task error variability and drives the recovery of the movement gestures. However, the plasticity achieved is insufficient to attain full functional recovery to successfully reach, grasp and release the pellets in the mouth, indicating the necessity for additional interventional therapies to promote repair.
Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículo113928
PublicaciónExperimental Neurology
EstadoPublicada - feb 2022

Palabras clave

  • Activity dependent plasticity
  • Reaching and grasping
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injury


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