Progressive Adaptation of Whole-Limb Kinematics After Peripheral Nerve Injury
The ability to recover purposeful movement soon after debilitating neuromuscular injury is essential to animal survival. Various neural and mechanical mechanisms exist to preserve whole-limb kinematics despite exhibiting long-term deficits of individual joints following peripheral nerve injury. However, it is unclear whether functionally relevant whole-limb movement is acutely conserved following injury. Therefore, the objective of this longitudinal study of the injury response from four individual cats was to test the hypothesis that whole-limb length is conserved following localized nerve injury of ankle extensors in cats with intact nervous systems. The primary finding of our study was that whole-limb kinematics during walking was not immediately preserved following peripheral nerve injuries that paralyzed subsets of ankle extensor muscles. Instead, whole-limb kinematics recovered gradually over multiple weeks, despite having the mechanical capacity of injury-spared muscles across all joints to achieve immediate functional recovery. The time taken to achieve complete recovery of whole-limb kinematics is consistent with an underlying process that relies on neuromuscular adaptation. Importantly, the gradual recovery of ankle joint kinematics remained incomplete, discontinuing once whole-limb kinematics had fully recovered. These findings support the hypothesis that a whole-limb representation of healthy limb function guides a locomotor compensation strategy after neuromuscular injury that arrests progressive changes in the joint kinematics once whole-limb kinematics is regained.
& Cope, T.
(2018). Progressive Adaptation of Whole-Limb Kinematics After Peripheral Nerve Injury. Biology Open.