Time course quantification of spastic hypertonia following spinal hemisection in rats

T. H. Hsieh, J. Y. Tsai, Y. N. Wu, I. S. Hwang, T. I. Chen, J. J.J. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Progressive changes in the muscle tone and stretch reflex after spinal cord injury (SCI) provide insight into the time-course development of spasticity. This study quantified the time-course changes of hypertonia for rats following SCI of T8 hemisection. A miniature manual stretching device measured the reactive torque via a pair of pressure sensing balloons; the angular displacement was measured via an optoelectronic device. Various stretching frequencies were tested, specifically 1/3, 1/2, 1, 3/2 and 2 Hz. The reactive torque and angular displacement were used to derive the viscous and elastic components representing the viscosity and stiffness of the rat's ankle joint. The enhanced velocity-dependent properties of spasticity were observed in the SCI hemisection rats (n=9) but not in the controls (n=9). Time-course measurements from pre-surgery to 56 days following SCI showed that the muscle tone of the hemisection rats dropped immediately after spinal shock and then gradually increased to reach a peak around 21 days postinjury (P<0.01). The muscle tone remained at least 75% of the peak value up to the end of an 8 week observation period (P<0.05). The changes of muscle tone can also be verified from the electrophysiological evaluations of electromyography (EMG) (P<0.05). In addition to conventional BBB motor behavior score, our results provided time-course quantification of the biomechanical and electrophysiological properties of muscle tone from the onset of SCI. Such data are useful for investigating progressive recovery of spinal damage in animal model and for future objective assessment of improved treatment for SCI human subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-198
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Apr

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


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