Cervical spinal cord injury in the adult rat: Assessment of forelimb dysfunction

Stephen M. Onifer, José F. Rodríguez, Deyanira I. Santiago, Juan C. Benitez, David T. Kim, Jean Pierre R. Brunschwig, Jeffrey T. Pacheco, John V. Perrone, Orlando Llorente, Donald H. Hesse, Alberto Martinez-Arizala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Traumatic injury to the adult human spinal cord most frequently occurs at the mid-to-low cervical segments and produces tetraplegia. To investigate treatments for improving upper extremity function after cervical spinal cord injury (SCI), three behavioral tests were examined for their potential usefulness in evaluating forelimb function in an adult rat model that mimics human low cervical SCI. Testing was conducted pre- and up to 4 weeks post- operation in adult female rats subjected to either contusion injury at the C7 spinal cord segment or sham-surgery. Modified Forelimb Tarlov scales revealed significant proximal an distal forelimb extension dysfunction in lesion rats at 1-to-4 weeks post-cervical SCI. The Forelimb Grip Strength Test showed a significant decrease in forelimb grip strength of lesion rats throughout the 4 weeks post-cervical SCI. Significant deficits in reach and pellet retrieval by lesion rats were measured at 1-to-4 weeks post-cervical SCI with the conditioned pellet retrieval Staircase Test. The result demonstrate that these qualitative and quantitative forelimb behavioral tests can be used to evaluate forelimb function following low cervical SCI and may be useful to investigate treatments for improving forelimb function in these lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-223
Number of pages13
JournalRestorative Neurology and Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1997


  • Behavior
  • Grasp
  • Grip strength
  • Reach
  • Retrieval
  • Staircase Test
  • Tarlov Scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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