Concerning Behavioral Models for Spinal Cord Injury in Animals
A thoughtful consideration of the limits of animal models of SCI is critical to the movement of a promising technique into the surgical ward. It will likely surprise the reader to learn that the recovery of walking behavior (voluntary ambulation) has always been a controversial means of analysis of recovery from spinal injury in experimental animals — so I will start here first. We instinctively make the leap from paralysis in the animal to the lifelong paralysis endured by human spinal cord-injured patients. Most investigators still use some form of stepping or walking (Cheng et al. 1997; Basso et al. 1995) or related tests (Tator and Fehlings 1991) to evaluate functional recovery in small animal models of SCI. These models should act as behavioral indexes of white matter integrity and/or renewed nerve impulse conduction through the lesion if they are to indicate recovery from SCI — but do they?
KeywordsSpinal Cord Spinal Cord Injury Motor Neuron Spinal Injury Lower Motor Neuron
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