Treadmill training in incomplete spinal cord injured rats

Behav Brain Res. 2000 Oct;115(1):107-13. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(00)00244-8.


Treadmill training has been shown to accelerate locomotor recovery and to improve weight bearing during treadmill walking in spinal cats. In human patients treadmill training is increasingly used in rehabilitation after incomplete spinal cord injury. In this study we examined training effects in spinal cord injured rats with an incomplete dorsal lesion. Recovery was examined with an open field locomotor score, kinematic analysis on the treadmill, and several functional tests (i.e. foot print evaluation, narrow beam crossing, grid walking, open field exploratory activity). During the course of 5 weeks after the injury, a substantial amount of recovery occurred in the treadmill trained as well as in the untrained rats. If compared to the control lesioned rats, which showed a high level of spontaneous hindlimb movements at 7-14 days post lesion, no additional beneficial effect of a 5-week daily treadmill training on the locomotor outcome could be detected in the trained group. The only change observed was a slightly larger exploratory activity of the trained rats. It is probable that the spared ventral and ventro-lateral fibers allowed spontaneous recovery and 'self-training' to occur to such an extend that systematic treadmill training did not provide additional improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Walking / physiology