Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Howland, Dena

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Bertocci, Gina

Committee Member

Nichols, T. Richard

Author's Keywords

spinal cord injury; gait; kinematics; feline; thoracic


In the Unites States, approximately 1.5 million people currently have a spinal cord injury and suffer permanent sensory and motor loss due to the disruption of the spinal cord. Due to the significant morbidity, it is vital to understand the functional impact of disrupting neural descending pathways that modulate spinal neurons involved in intermuscular coordination critical for gait behaviors. Tasks that are more difficult require additional input from these neural pathways; therefore, fourteen feline subjects were familiarized with level overground locomotion and stair descent gait tasks. After collection of baseline kinematic data, the subjects received either a dorsal or ventral quadrant injury at spinal T9/T10 junction. Two types of injuries allowed for the study of disruption of different combinations of descending neural pathways. A ventral quadrant injury disrupts the vestibulospinal, pontine reticulospinal, and medullary reticulospinal tracts, and a dorsal quadrant injury disrupts the rubrospinal corticospinal, and medullary reticulospinal tracts. Post-operative gait performances were captured six weeks post-injury. Due to the critical nature of weight support for effective gait, analyses focused on the stance phase. Changes in gait features during stance were observed following both localized injuries: dorsal quadrant injuries had symmetrical gait features and ventral quadrant injuries had asymmetrical gait features. In particular, weight acceptance was altered as evidenced by exaggerated flexion at one or more of the hindlimb joints in early stance during level overground locomotion. Dorsal quadrant injuries had This work improves our understanding of the effect of spinal cord injury and descending neural pathways located in different spinal areas on the stance phase of gait, and contributes to the knowledge necessary to promote recovery in those with a spinal cord injury.