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High-Impact, Self-Motivated Training Within an Enriched Environment With Single Animal Tracking Dose-Dependently Promotes Motor Skill Acquisition and Functional Recovery


Starkey, Michelle L; Bleul, Christiane; Kasper, Hansjörg; Mosberger, Alice C; Zörner, Björn; Giger, Stefan; Gullo, Miriam; Buschmann, Frank; Schwab, Martin E (2014). High-Impact, Self-Motivated Training Within an Enriched Environment With Single Animal Tracking Dose-Dependently Promotes Motor Skill Acquisition and Functional Recovery. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 28(6):594-605.

Abstract

Functional recovery following central nervous system injuries is strongly influenced by rehabilitative training. In the clinical setting, the intensity of training and the level of motivation for a particular task are known to play important roles. With increasing neuroscience studies investigating the effects of training and rehabilitation, it is important to understand how the amount and type of training of individuals influences outcome. However, little is known about the influence of spontaneous "self-training" during daily life as it is often uncontrolled, not recorded, and mostly disregarded. Here, we investigated the effects of the intensity of self-training on motor skill acquisition in normal, intact rats and on the recovery of functional motor behavior following spinal cord injury in adult rats. We used a custom-designed small animal tracking system, "RatTrack," to continuously record the activity of multiple rats, simultaneously in a complex Natural Habitat-enriched environment. Naïve, adult rats performed high-intensity, self-motivated motor training, which resulted in them out-performing rats that were conventionally housed and trained on skilled movement tasks, for example, skilled prehension (grasping) and ladder walking. Following spinal cord injury the amount of self-training was correlated with improved functional recovery. These data suggest that high-impact, self-motivated training leads to superior skill acquisition and functional recovery than conventional training paradigms. These findings have important implications for the design of animal studies investigating rehabilitation and for the planning of human rehabilitation programs.

Abstract

Functional recovery following central nervous system injuries is strongly influenced by rehabilitative training. In the clinical setting, the intensity of training and the level of motivation for a particular task are known to play important roles. With increasing neuroscience studies investigating the effects of training and rehabilitation, it is important to understand how the amount and type of training of individuals influences outcome. However, little is known about the influence of spontaneous "self-training" during daily life as it is often uncontrolled, not recorded, and mostly disregarded. Here, we investigated the effects of the intensity of self-training on motor skill acquisition in normal, intact rats and on the recovery of functional motor behavior following spinal cord injury in adult rats. We used a custom-designed small animal tracking system, "RatTrack," to continuously record the activity of multiple rats, simultaneously in a complex Natural Habitat-enriched environment. Naïve, adult rats performed high-intensity, self-motivated motor training, which resulted in them out-performing rats that were conventionally housed and trained on skilled movement tasks, for example, skilled prehension (grasping) and ladder walking. Following spinal cord injury the amount of self-training was correlated with improved functional recovery. These data suggest that high-impact, self-motivated training leads to superior skill acquisition and functional recovery than conventional training paradigms. These findings have important implications for the design of animal studies investigating rehabilitation and for the planning of human rehabilitation programs.

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3 citations in Web of Science®
4 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Balgrist University Hospital, Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:February 2014
Deposited On:19 Mar 2014 13:54
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 04:29
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN:1545-9683
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/1545968314520721
PubMed ID:24519022

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