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Published Online: 1 May 2017

Interlimb Coordination during Tied-Belt and Transverse Split-Belt Locomotion before and after an Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

Publication: Journal of Neurotrauma
Volume 34, Issue Number 9


Coordination between the arms/forelimbs and legs/hindlimbs is often impaired in humans and quadrupedal mammals after incomplete spinal cord injury. In quadrupeds, the forelimbs often take more steps than the hindlimbs, producing a two-to-one forelimb–hindlimb (2-1 FL-HL) coordination. In locomotor performance scales, this is generally considered a loss of FL-HL coordination. Here, FL-HL coordination was quantified before and 8 weeks after a lateral spinal hemisection at the sixth thoracic segment in six adult cats. Cats were tested during tied-belt locomotion (equal front and rear speeds) and transverse split-belt locomotion with the forelimbs or hindlimbs stepping faster. The results show that consistent phasing between forelimb and hindlimb movements was maintained after hemisection, even with the appearance of 2-1 FL-HL coordination, indicating that new stable forms of coordination emerge. Moreover, transverse split-belt locomotion potently modulated interlimb coordination and was capable of restoring a one-to-one FL-HL coordination with a faster treadmill speed for the hindlimbs. In conclusion, the results suggest that neural communication persists after an incomplete spinal cord injury, despite an unequal number of steps between the forelimbs and hindlimbs, and that interlimb coordination can be modulated by having the forelimbs or hindlimbs move at a faster frequency. We propose that locomotor recovery scales incorporate more sensitive methods to quantify FL-HL coordination, to better reflect residual functional capacity and possible cervicolumbar neural communication. Lastly, devising training protocols that make use of the bidirectional influences of the cervical and lumbar locomotor pattern generators could strengthen interlimb coordination and promote locomotor recovery.

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Published In

cover image Journal of Neurotrauma
Journal of Neurotrauma
Volume 34Issue Number 9May 1, 2017
Pages: 1751 - 1765
PubMed: 27219842


Published in print: May 1, 2017
Published online: 1 May 2017
Published ahead of print: 27 June 2016
Published ahead of production: 24 May 2016


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Yann Thibaudier
Department of Pharmacology-Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Centre de Recherche du CHUS, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.
Marie-France Hurteau
Department of Pharmacology-Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Centre de Recherche du CHUS, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.
Charline Dambreville
Department of Pharmacology-Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Centre de Recherche du CHUS, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.
Anass Chraibi
Department of Pharmacology-Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Centre de Recherche du CHUS, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.
Laurent Goetz
Centre de Recherche de l'Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Québec, Quebec, Canada.
Alain Frigon
Department of Pharmacology-Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Centre de Recherche du CHUS, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.


Address correspondence to:Alain Frigon, PhDDepartment of Pharmacology-PhysiologyFaculty of Medicine and Health SciencesUniversité de Sherbrooke3001 12e Avenue NordSherbrooke, Quebec, J1H 5N4Canada
E-mail: [email protected]

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No competing financial interests exist.

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