Chapter 16–spinal plasticity in the recovery of locomotion.

Serge Rossignol, Alain Frigon, Grégory Barrière, Marina Martinez, Dorothy Barthélemy, Laurent Bouyer, Marc Bélanger, Janyne Provencher, Connie Chau, Edna Brustein, Hugues Barbeau, Nathalie Giroux, Judith Marcoux, Cécile Langlet, Olivier Alluin
Progress in Brain Research. 2011-01-01; : 229-241
DOI: 10.1016/b978-0-444-53825-3.00021-8

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Locomotion is a very robust motor pattern which can be optimized after different
types of lesions to the central and/or peripheral nervous system. This implies
that several plastic mechanisms are at play to re-express locomotion after such
lesions. Here, we review some of the key observations that helped identify some
of these plastic mechanisms. At the core of this plasticity is the existence of a
spinal central pattern generator (CPG) which is responsible for hindlimb
locomotion as observed after a complete spinal cord section. However, normally,
the CPG pattern is adapted by sensory inputs to take the environment into account
and by supraspinal inputs in the context of goal-directed locomotion. We
therefore also review some of the sensory and supraspinal mechanisms involved in
the recovery of locomotion after partial spinal injury. We particularly stress a
recent development using a dual spinal lesion paradigm in which a first partial
spinal lesion is made which is then followed, some weeks later, by a complete
spinalization. The results show that the spinal cord below the spinalization has
been changed by the initial partial lesion suggesting that, in the recovery of
locomotion after partial spinal lesion, plastic mechanisms within the spinal cord
itself are very important.


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