Full weight-bearing hindlimb standing following stand training in the adult spinal cat

J Neurophysiol. 1998 Jul;80(1):83-91. doi: 10.1152/jn.1998.80.1.83.


Behavioral and physiological characteristics of standing were studied in nontrained spinal cats and in spinal cats that received daily stand training of the hindlimbs for 12 wk. Training consisted of assisting the cats to stand with full weight support either on both hindlimbs or on one hindlimb (30 min/day, 5 days/wk). Extensor muscle electromyographic (EMG) amplitude and extension at the knee and ankle joints during full weight bearing recovered to prespinal levels in both stand-trained and nontrained spinal cats. However, full weight bearing of the hindquarters was sustained for up to approximately 20 min in the spinal cats that received bilateral stand training compared with approximately 4 min in cats that were not trained to stand. Unilateral stand training selectively improved weight bearing on the trained limb based on ground reaction forces and extensor muscle EMG activity levels measured during bilateral standing. These results suggest that the capacity of the adult lumbar spinal cord to generate full weight-bearing standing can be improved by as much as fivefold by the repetitive activation of selected neural pathways in the spinal cord after supraspinal connectivity has been eliminated. Given that stepping is improved in response to step training, it appears that the recovery of standing provides another example of training-specific motor learning in the spinal cord, i.e., the spinal cord learns to perform hindlimb standing by practicing that specific task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Conditioning, Psychological
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Hindlimb / innervation*
  • Hindlimb / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Posture
  • Reaction Time
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Tape Recording
  • Time Factors
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology*