An assessment of locomotor function in rodents with central nervous system (CNS) injuries is published this week in Nature Methods. The study provides a systematically collected data set to help researchers match a type of nervous system lesion with its appropriate locomotor impediments in order to best evaluate the effectiveness of different treatments.
A consequence of damage to the CNS caused by trauma, stroke or neurodegenerative diseases is impairment of motor functions. In rodents, locomotion tests ― such as walking or swimming ― are used to evaluate the functional motor deficits caused by this kind of damage. Accurate and comprehensive functional testing is important to determine whether a novel therapeutic approach is successful as well as to understand complex CNS processes, such as those leading to spontaneous recovery.
Bjoern Zoerner and colleagues used four motor tasks ― two types of walking, wading and swimming ― that test different aspects of locomotion deficits in rats and mice with different models of CNS damage. They found that the locomotor profiles in the rodents were highly dependent on the location and severity of the CNS lesion.