The Effects of Intermittent Training on Recovery of Fine Motor Control and Neuroplasticity After Stroke in a Mouse Model

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Stroke is a leading cause of disability worldwide. Focused training of the impaired limb has been shown to improve its functional outcome in animal models. However, most human stroke survivors exhibit persistent motor deficits, likely due to differences in rehabilitation intensity between experimental (animal) and clinical (human) settings. The current study investigated the effect of training intensity on behavioral outcome and neural plasticity in a mouse model of stroke. After learning a skilled reaching task, mice received a unilateral photothrombotic stroke. Post-operatively, animals received either daily rehabilitative training, intermittent rehabilitative training (every other day), or no rehabilitative training. Antibody staining was used to determine the relationship between differing training intensities and synaptic density in the peri-lesion cortex post-training. Assessment of the impaired limb illustrated that daily training resulted in significantly better performance than no training, while the intermittent group fell between the two. Though the current study sought to evaluate the effect of training intensity on synaptic density, the data were inconclusive. Results indicate that intensity of rehabilitation is important for optimal recovery, with higher intensity training being necessary for improved functional outcome.



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