Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Rehabilitation Improves Recovery of a Motor Task after Neurological Injury
Kilgard, Michael P.
Rennaker, Robert L.
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Ischemic stroke and spinal cord injury are neurological injuries that produce persisting motor deficits. Additionally, the majority of those suffering from impairments due to ischemic stroke or spinal cord injury rarely fully recover complete function with current treatment options. Here, we investigate the use of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), which facilitates specific and long-lasting plasticity after injury. Sprague-Dawley rats affected by a spinal cord contusion at C5 and administered VNS paired with rehabilitation exhibited significant recovery of forelimb strength on an isometric pull task. We also propose similar recovery of supination function in Sprague-Dawley rats affected by endothelin-1‐induced focal motor cortex ischemic stroke. Thus, VNS paired with rehabilitation may be an effective therapeutic tool in the event of neurological injury such as ischemic stroke or spinal cord injury.
A thesis written by Rachel Choi, an undergraduate neuroscience major in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, in partial completion of the Collegium V Honors Program.