Stroke remains the leading cause of adult disability, with upper extremity motor impairments being the most prominent functional deficit in surviving stroke victims. The development of animal models of upper extremity dysfunction after stroke has enabled investigators to examine the neural mechanisms underlying rehabilitation-dependent motor recovery as well as the efficacy of various adjuvant therapies for enhancing recovery. Much of this research has focused on rat models of forelimb motor function after experimentally induced ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. This article provides a review of several different methods for inducing stroke, including devascularization, photothrombosis, chemical vasoconstriction, and hemorrhagia. We also describe a battery of sensorimotor tasks for assessing forelimb motor function after stroke. The tasks range from measures of gross motor performance to fine object manipulation and kinematic movement analysis, and we offer a comparison of the sensitivity for revealing motor deficits and the amount of time required to administer each motor test. In addition, we discuss several important methodological issues, including the importance of testing on multiple tasks to characterize the nature of the impairments, establishing stable baseline prestroke motor performance measures, dissociating the effects of acute versus chronic testing, and verifying lesion location and size. Finally, we outline general considerations for conducting research using rat models of stroke and the role that these models should play in guiding clinical trials.
- Middle cerebral artery
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)