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Exercise-Dependent Modulation of Neurourological Health Following Spinal Cord Injury

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Technical Report,15 Aug 2011,14 Aug 2014

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University of Louisville Louisvilel United States

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Our study uses a clinically relevant chronic spinal cord injury SCI animal model for examining bladder function. SCI results in detrimental effects on the upper and lower urinary tract. Loss of bladder control affects independence, overall health, and self-image. Current attempts at treatments have unwanted side effects and limited success. The goal is to provide a natural therapeutic alternative using body weight supported treadmill training. Since exercise and activity dependent tasks are highly influential on a family of molecules called neurotrophic factors, we are also studying the effects of the training on nerve growth factor, one member of the neurotrophin family shown to be particularly indicative of bladder dysfunction post-SCI. The data to date, using metabolic cages, cystometry, EMG recordings of leg muscle during bladder filling, and analysis of bladder elastin and collage neurotrophins and kidney TGF-beta CD11b tissues indicate a positive benefit of both step-training and general exercise to the lower urinary tract, with a potential benefit to the upper urinary tract as well. These benefits to urological health could translate to a reduction in night-time catheterization, increased bladder compliance and capacity, reduced leg spasms with a full bladder, and decreased risk for frequent urinary tract infection. The long-term vision is a therapeutic intervention involving a combination of at home exercise and neuromodulation addition to our new studies.

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