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Directing Spinal Cord Plasticity: The Impact of Stretch Therapy on Functional Recovery After SCI

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Technical Report,30 Sep 2012,29 Sep 2016

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University of Louisville Louisville United States

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Essentially all spinal cord injured patients receive stretching therapies beginning within the first few weeks post-injury. Despite this fact, almost nothing is known about how stretching might influence the neural circuitry in the spinal cord that is responsible for controlling the motor and locomotor activities of the legs. Recently, while studying activity-based rehabilitation in a rat model of spinal cord injury, we observed that stretching actually worsened locomotor recovery. The goal of this project is to investigate how the timing and intensity of a stretch-based therapy influences locomotor recovery after moderate and severe spinal cord injuries. In this, the first year of this award, we have found that stretching negatively influences locomotor function in animals with both acute within days and chronic after 3 months spinal cord injuries. We have also determined that stretching for short periods of time 4-5 weeks allows substantial recovery to occur once stretching is stopped, and both acute and chronic animals show a similar time course of recovery. Finally, in very preliminary studies, we have found that the torque being applied during stretching of the rat hindlimb is roughly similar to that applied to human lower extremities relative to body weight.

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  • Medicine and Medical Research

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