Frederic Bretzner, Université Laval, CRCHU de Québec, Québec, Canada

Contribution of the Mesencephalic Locomotor Region to functional locomotor recovery after incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

Funded in: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018


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Problem: The spinal cord contains all the circuitry necessary for movement, but in the absence of commands from the brain, people with spinal cord injuries are unable to walk.

Target: Electrical stimulation of the Mesencephalic Locomotor Region to promote functional locomotor recovery.

Goal: Identification of the nervous circuits that need to be repaired in order to improve functional motor recovery in patients with spinal cord injuries.

 

Although the spinal cord contains all the circuitry necessary for movement, in the absence of commands from the brain, people with spinal cord injuries are unable to walk. Motor recovery can be partially achieved by strategies or therapies. However, a major obstacle to translating these approaches into improved treatments is the lack of identification and characterization of appropriate targets at the brain and spinal cord levels.

Recently, electrical stimulation of the Mesencephalic Locomotor Region – a supraspinal locomotor center - has been shown to promote functional locomotor recovery in hemi-lesioned rodents. Although this functional region has been identified anatomically, there is still an on-going debate about the exact neuronal populations involved.

Using genetic tools accessible in the mouse, we propose in the current project to dissect the neuronal bases of this supraspinal locomotor center in order to identify and characterize their functional contribution to locomotor and postural control before and after spinal cord injury.

These results will allow the team to get a better understanding of the nervous circuits that need to be repaired in order to improve functional motor recovery in patients living with spinal cord injuries.