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Intermittent Hypoxia Elicits Prolonged Restoration of Motor Function in Human SCI

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Annual rept. 30 Sep 2010-29 Sep 2011

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This research is part of a concurrent set of studies involving animals and human spinal cord-injured SCI subjects designed to test the effects of a novel therapy, termed acute intermittent hypoxia AIH, on voluntary limb function following chronic SCI. The current research investigates the effect of AIH treatment in a rat model of cervical SCI. Within Year 1 of this 2 year study, we determined that AIH, in combination with daily motor training, elicits sustained improvement in skilled limb use during a ladder walking task in a rat model of SCI. Spinal-injured rats which underwent AIH treatment and daily motor training made fewer footslip errors on the ladder for up to 4 weeks after the end of treatment when compared to normoxia-treated, motor- trained control rats. In a separate experiment, spinal-injured rats treated with AIH without concomitant motor training did not show recovery on the ladder task. These results provide strong support for our proposed Year 2 experiments, which will directly test the effects of AIH treatment and motor training on recovery of function in SCI rats. These findings are important because they reveal that we can obtain consistent effects in an animal model for a promising SCI therapy. This therapy is also feasible, in that AIH has already been shown to augment motor function in persons with SCI.

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  • Medicine and Medical Research

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