Combinatorial Motor Training Results in Functional Reorganization of Remaining Motor Cortex after Controlled Cortical Impact in Rats

Hannah L Combs, Theresa A Jones, Dorothy A Kozlowski, DeAnna L Adkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Cortical reorganization subsequent to post-stroke motor rehabilitative training (RT) has been extensively examined in animal models and humans. However, similar studies focused on the effects of motor training after traumatic brain injury (TBI) are lacking. We previously reported that after a moderate/severe TBI in adult male rats, functional improvements in forelimb use were accomplished only with a combination of skilled forelimb reach training and aerobic exercise, with or without nonimpaired forelimb constraint. Thus, the current study was designed to examine the relationship between functional motor cortical map reorganization after experimental TBI and the behavioral improvements resulting from this combinatorial rehabilitative regime. Adult male rats were trained to proficiency on a skilled reaching task, received a unilateral controlled cortical impact (CCI) over the forelimb area of the caudal motor cortex (CMC). Three days post-CCI, animals began RT (n = 13) or no rehabilitative training (NoRT) control procedures (n = 13). The RT group participated in daily skilled reach training, voluntary aerobic exercise, and nonimpaired forelimb constraint. This RT regimen significantly improved impaired forelimb reaching success and normalized reaching strategies, consistent with previous findings. RT also enlarged the area of motor cortical wrist representation, derived by intracortical microstimulation, compared to NoRT. These findings indicate that sufficient RT can greatly improve motor function and improve the functional integrity of remaining motor cortex after a moderate/severe CCI. When compared with findings from stroke models, these findings also suggest that more intense RT may be needed to improve motor function and remodel the injured cortex after TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2016


  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic/physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping/methods
  • Exercise Test/methods
  • Forelimb/innervation
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex/physiology
  • Motor Skills/physiology
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal/methods
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Recovery of Function/physiology


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