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Physiol Res. 2015;64(1):129-45. Epub 2014 Sep 5.

Long-term effects of enriched environment on neurofunctional outcome and CNS lesion volume after traumatic brain injury in rats.

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Department of Traumalogy and Orthopedic Surgery, University of Witten/Herdecke, Cologne-Merheim Medical Center (CMMC), Institute for Research in Operative Medicine (IFOM), Cologne, Germany.


To determine whether the exposure to long term enriched environment (EE) would result in a continuous improvement of neurological recovery and ameliorate the loss of brain tissue after traumatic brain injury (TBI) vs. standard housing (SH). Male Sprague-Dawley rats (300-350 g, n=28) underwent lateral fluid percussion brain injury or SHAM operation. One TBI group was held under complex EE for 90 days, the other under SH. Neuromotor and sensorimotor dysfunction and recovery were assessed after injury and at days 7, 15, and 90 via Composite Neuroscore (NS), RotaRod test, and Barnes Circular Maze (BCM). Cortical tissue loss was assessed using serial brain sections. After day 7 EE animals showed similar latencies and errors as SHAM in the BCM. SH animals performed notably worse with differences still significant on day 90 (p<0.001). RotaRod test and NS revealed superior results for EE animals after day 7. The mean cortical volume was significantly higher in EE vs. SH animals (p=0.003). In summary, EE animals after lateral fluid percussion (LFP) brain injury performed significantly better than SH animals after 90 days of recovery. The window of opportunity may be wide and also lends further credibility to the importance of long term interventions in patients suffering from TBI.

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