Spinal cord injury (SCI) causes dramatic changes in the quality of life, including coping with bladder dysfunction which requires repeated daily and nightly catheterizations. Our laboratory has recently demonstrated in a rat SCI model that repetitive sensory information generated through task-specific stepping and/or loading can improve nonlocomotor functions, including bladder function (Ward PJ, Herrity AN, Smith RR, Willhite A, Harrison BJ, Petruska JC, Harkema SJ, Hubscher CH. J Neurotrauma 31: 819–833, 2014). To target potential underlying mechanisms, the current study included a forelimb-only exercise group to ascertain whether improvements may be attributed to general activity effects that impact target organ-neural interactions or to plasticity of the lumbosacral circuitry that receives convergent somatovisceral inputs. Male Wistar rats received a T9 contusion injury and were randomly assigned to three groups 2 wk postinjury: quadrupedal locomotion, forelimb exercise, or a nontrained group. Throughout the study (including preinjury), all animals were placed in metabolic cages once a week for 24 h to monitor water intake and urine output. Following the 10-wk period of daily 1-h treadmill training, awake cystometry data were collected and bladder and kidney tissue harvested for analysis. Metabolic cage frequency-volume measurements of voiding and cystometry reveal an impact of exercise training on multiple SCI-induced impairments related to various aspects of urinary tract function. Improvements in both the quadrupedal and forelimb-trained groups implicate underlying mechanisms beyond repetitive sensory information from the hindlimbs driving spinal network excitability of the lumbosacral urogenital neural circuitry. Furthermore, the impact of exercise training on the upper urinary tract (kidney) underscores the health benefit of activity-based training on the entire urinary system within the SCI population.
- locomotor training
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
Please sign in below with your personal user name and password.