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Rehabilitative reaching training and plasticity following spinal cord injury in the adult rat Open Access


Other title
spinal cord injury
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Krajacic, Aleksandra
Supervisor and department
Karim Fouad, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, Centre for Neuroscience
Examining committee member and department
Keir Pearson, Department of Physiology, Centre for Neuroscience
Jaynie Yang, Dept. of Physical Therapy, Centre for Neuroscience
Gillian Muir, University of Saskatchewan, External examiner
Simon Gosgnach, Department of Physiology, Centre for Neuroscience
Centre for Neuroscience

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Injury to the cervical spinal cord is a devastating event that results in a transient to permanent loss of sensory and motor functions following injury. Moderate recovery has been reported to occur in individuals and in animal models after spinal cord injury (SCI). One approach to promote recovery after SCI is rehabilitative training. This thesis examines the relation of reaching training with adaptive changes (i.e. plasticity) and functional recovery following SCI. In my first experiment, I investigated whether plasticity of the corticospinal tract (CST) is the cause for reaching recovery after ablation of the dorsal and lateral CST. Rats that received reaching training were significantly better in reaching than their untrained counterparts. A relesion of the CST revealed that the reaching recovery mainly depended on plasticity of the CST itself. Since it is controversial whether training should be initiated immediately after SCI, I investigated whether a delayed initiation of reaching training after SCI is beneficial. I compared the reaching success of rats that received reaching training on day 4 post SCI with rats that received training on day 12 post SCI. I found that the reaching success in rats that either received reaching training on day 4 or 12 following SCI was similar. Lastly, I investigated whether training efficacy is declined in chronically injured rats. Since it has been shown that the inflammatory response after SCI declines, it is questionable whether there is a relation between the inflammatory response after SCI and training efficacy. In my last experiment I injected chronically injured rats with a substance that induces a systemic inflammation. I found that rehabilitative reaching training in chronic injured rats only resulted in an improved reaching recovery when the training was combined with the administration of the substance that induces inflammation (lipopolysaccharide). Although there are still unanswered questions regarding the underlying mechanism for functional recovery after SCI, the results of this thesis could be used as a basic to improve future rehabilitative training strategies and therefore improve the quality of life in individuals that suffer from SCI.
License granted by Aleksandra Krajacic ( on 2011-04-15T17:25:30Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: Rehabilitative reaching training and plasticity following spinal cord injury in the adult rat
File author: Aleksandra Krajacic
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