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Wind-up of stretch reflexes as a measure of spasticity in chronic spinalized rats: The effects of passive exercise and modafinil

Experimental Neurology
DOI: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2010.09.019
  • Exercise
  • H-Reflex
  • Modafinil
  • Spasticity
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Stretch Reflex
  • Biology
  • Physics


Abstract Spasticity is a common disorder following spinal cord injury that can impair function and quality of life. While a number of mechanisms are thought to play a role in spasticity, the role of motoneuron persistent inward currents (PICs) is emerging as pivotal. The presence of PICs can be evidenced by temporal summation or wind-up of reflex responses to brief afferent inputs. In this study, a combined neurophysiological and novel biomechanical approach was used to assess the effects of passive exercise and modafinil administration on hyper-reflexia and spasticity following complete T-10 transection in the rat. Animals were divided into 3 groups (n=8) and provided daily passive cycling exercise, oral modafinil, or no intervention. After 6weeks, animals were tested for wind-up of the stretch reflex (SR) during repeated dorsiflexion stretches of the ankle. H-reflexes were tested in a subset of animals. Both torque and gastrocnemius electromyography showed evidence of SR wind-up in the transection only group that was significantly different from both treatment groups (p<0.05). H-reflex frequency dependent depression was also restored to normal levels in both treatment groups. The results provide support for the use of passive cycling exercise and modafinil in the treatment of spasticity and provide insight into the possible contribution of PICs.

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