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Trends Neurosci. 2002 Jul;25(7):370-6.

The special nature of human walking and its neural control.

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Brain and Movement Laboratory, CRULRG, Departmentt of Anatomy and Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, Canada G1J 2G3.


Walking the way we do is inherently unstable. Sophisticated neurological control systems are required to ensure that we progress and maintain our balance at the same time. Most of what is known about the functional organization of these neurological control systems is inferred from studies on animals. Here, I compare selected studies on the neural control of human walking with similar studies in reduced animal preparations. The simple monosynaptic reflex appears to be controlled by comparable mechanisms in walking cats and humans. However, peripheral feedback mechanisms suggested to contribute to the switch from stance to swing on the basis of experiments in reduced cat preparations have little influence during human walking. A cat whose spinal cord has been completely transected can be made to walk on a treadmill by drug injections, but such an immediate effect of pharmacological intervention is not seen in humans. However, there have been reports that pharmacological intervention can improve the walking of patients with incomplete spinal cord injury, especially when pharmacological treatment is combined with training.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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