Recovery of locomotion after chronic spinalization in the adult cat

Brain Res. 1987 May 26;412(1):84-95. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(87)91442-9.


Cats were spinalized (T13) as adults and were trained to walk with the hindlimbs on a treadmill. After 3 weeks to 3 months and up to 1 year depending on the animal, all were capable of walking on the plantar surface of the feet and support the weight of the hindquarters. Interactive training appeared to accelerate the recovery of locomotion and maintain smooth locomotor movements. Despite the obvious loss of voluntary control and equilibrium which the experimenter partially compensated for by maintaining the thorax and/or the tail, the cats could walk with a regular rhythm and a well-coordinated hindlimb alternation at speeds of 0.1-1.2 m/s. Cycle duration as well as stance and swing duration resembled those of normal cats at comparable speeds. The range of angular motion was also similar to that observed in intact cats as was the coupling between different joints. The EMG activity of the hindlimb and lumbar axial muscles also retained the characteristics observed in the intact animal. Some deficits such as a dragging of the foot in early swing and diminution of the angular excursion in the knee were seen at later stages. Thus, the adult spinal cat preparation is considered as a useful model to study the influence of different types of training and of different drugs or other treatments in the process of locomotor recovery after injury to the spinal cord.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Back
  • Cats
  • Decerebrate State*
  • Electromyography
  • Extremities
  • Gait
  • Locomotion*
  • Male
  • Muscles / physiology