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Exp Neurol. 1985 Apr;88(1):123-34.

Spinal cord contusion in the rat: behavioral analysis of functional neurologic impairment.


A graded spinal cord injury in rats was produced by dropping a 10-g weight from 2.5, 5.0, 10,0, or 17.5 cm onto the exposed dura at the T8 vertebral level. Groups of rats (N = 10) for each of these weight drop (WD) levels as well as unoperated and WD controls (0 cm) were subjected to behavioral analysis that included evaluation of simple and complex reflexes as well as spontaneous and evoked motor patterns. On the basis of this analysis, we developed a protocol for evaluating functional deficits that follow spinal cord injury in the rat. The resulting combined behavioral score, a measure of functional deficit, closely correlated with the magnitude of the mechanical injury. The protocol used for neurologic assessment was administered routinely by personnel who were easily and rapidly trained. It should therefore prove useful in detecting the effects of treatment on recovery of function in a rat model of spinal cord injury.

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