TABLE 3-5 Tools Used to Assess Spinal Cord Injuries in Laboratory Animals

Functional recovery

 

Basso, Beattie, and Bresnahan (BBB) scale, an open-field locomotor test for rats

 

Is based on 5-point Tarlov scale

 

Analyzes hind-limb movements of a rat in an open field

 

Is a 21-point scale used to assess locomotor coordination

 

Rates parameters such as joint movements, the ability for weight support, limb coordination, foot placement, and gait stability

 

Small changes in tissue correlate to large changes on the scale

 

Assesses walking, not other movements requiring coordinated spinal cord activity

 

Does not assess pain, bowel, bladder, or sexual function

 

Basso Mouse Scale (BMS), an open-field locomotor test for mice

 

Is an adaptation of rat BBB scale to examine the recovery of hind-limb locomotor function

 

Assesses walking, not other movements requiring coordinated spinal cord activity

 

Does not assess pain, bowel, bladder, or sexual function

 

Neuronal activity assessment by electrophysiology

 

Assesses MEPs or SSEP

 

Stimulates corresponding cortical areas of the brain and records response in target nerves to see if connections are still functional

 

Correlates to impairment of locomotor activity

 

Is noninvasive

 

Neuronal activity may not correlate with functional changes

 

Hard to assess subtle but critical improvements to circuitry

 

Does not directly assess pain, bowel, bladder, or sexual function

 

Forepaw withdrawal

 

Investigates recovery of heat perception

 

The forepaw is placed on a heat block and the time that it takes for the animal to withdraw it is measured

 

Forepaw withdrawal requires motor function

 

Does not assess pain, bowel, bladder, or sexual function

 

Directed forepaw reaching

 

Looks at coordinated limb and muscle movement

 

Requires rats to reach under a barrier and pick up food with forepaws

 

Limited scale for assessment

 

Does not assess pain, bowel, bladder, or sexual function

Morphological assessment of recovery

 

Histology

 

Is used to look at the morphology of axons and assess the degree of tissue sparing, injury, and recovery



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