Recovery of Proprioceptive Feedback from Nerve Crush

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Sensorimotor functions are restored by peripheral nerve regeneration with greater success following injuries that crush rather than sever the nerve. Better recovery following nerve crush is commonly attributed to superior reconnection of regenerating axons with their original peripheral targets. The present study was designed to estimate the fraction of stretch reflex recovery attributable to functional recovery of regenerated spindle afferents. Recovery of the spindle afferent population was estimated from excitatory postsynaptic potentials evoked by muscle stretch (strEPSPs) in motoneurons. These events were measured in cats that were anaesthetized, so that recovery of spindle afferent function, including both muscle stretch encoding and monosynaptic transmission, could be separated from other factors that act centrally to influence muscle stretch-evoked excitation of motoneurons. Recovery of strEPSPs to 70% of normal specified the extent of overall functional recovery by the population spindle afferents that regained responsiveness to muscle stretch. In separate studies, we examined recovery of the stretch reflex in decerebrate cats, and found that it recovered to supranormal levels after nerve crush. The substantial disparity in recovery between strEPSPs and stretch reflex led us to conclude that factors in addition to recovery of spindle afferents make a large contribution in restoring the stretch reflex following nerve crush.



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