ABSTRACT: Traumatic injury to the adult human spinal cord most frequently occurs at the mid-to-low cervical segments and produces tetraplegia. To investigate treatments for improving upper extremity function after cervical spinal cord injury (SCI), three behavioral tests were examined for their potential usefulness in evaluating forelimb function in an adult rat model that mimics human low cervical SCI. Testing was conducted pre- and up to 4 weeks post-operation in adult female rats subjected to either contusion injury at the C7 spinal cord segment or sham-surgery. Modified Forelimb Tarlov scales revealed significant proximal and distal forelimb extension dysfunction in lesion rats at l-to-4 weeks post-cervical SCI. The Forelimb Grip Strength Test showed a significant decrease in forelimb grip strength of lesion rats throughout the 4 weeks post-cervical SCI. Significant deficits in reach and pellet retrieval by lesion rats were measured at l-to-4 weeks post-cervical SCI with the conditioned pellet retrieval Staircase Test. The results demonstrate that these qualitative and quantitative forelimb behavioral tests can be used to evaluate forelimb function following low cervical SCI and may be useful to investigate treatments for improving forelimb function in these lesions.
Restorative neurology and neuroscience 01/1997; 11(4):211-23. · 2.51 Impact Factor