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How to Modify the Forced Running Wheel for Ischemic Stroke Rehabilitation in Rats

Author(s): Chi-Chun Chen, Ching-Ping Chang


An infrared-sensing deceleration running wheel (IDRW) is proposed from the prevention to the rehabilitation of ischemic stroke in an animal model. Current forced training platforms use a fixed speed for rehabilitation training in rats. However, it is difficult for the injured rats to keep exercising at a constant intensity. Moreover, neither high nor low training speed can be the optimal for rats for the whole rehabilitation process. This conventional method may even result in second-time injuries during rehabilitation, which causes adverse effects in recovery. This phenomenon is also one of the reasons why currently marketed forced training animal platforms have shown little effectiveness in the rehabilitation of stroke patients. The major distinction between the techniques described in this study and the commercially available ones is that our platform is capable of automatically and dynamically adjust varying the training intensity based on spontaneous feedback of individual physical conditions according to infrared sensor for positions.


This platform uses infrared sensors to measure the running positions of rats to provide feedback and adjust the exercise speed for assisting stroke rehabilitation in rats. In addition, with linear acceleration and adaptive deceleration models, rats with stroke can achieve rehabilitation based on their individual physical characteristics. This rehabilitation model not only achieves effective recovery based on the individualized physical capacity of rats but also protects rats from fall injuries. This rehabilitation model overcomes individual differences, which has not been realized in conventional rehabilitation models.


An animal ischemic stroke model was used to test the effectiveness of this platform. One week after middle cerebral arterial occlusion (MCAo) surgery, the animals were assigned into four groups (treadmill, motorized running wheel (MRW), (infrared-sensing running wheel) ISRW, and IDRW) to complete rehabilitation training over three weeks. Inclined plane and beam walking tests were used daily to test the motor function recovery. After three weeks of exercise, the triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TTC) was used to obtain the cerebral infarct volume. The result showed that the IDRW group achieved a significant recovery from the evaluation of inclined plane (control: 49.9 ± 0.8 degrees, IDRW: 52.6 ± 0.7 degrees), beam walking (control: 1.5 ± 0.2 points, IDRW: 0.6 ± 0.15 points), and cerebral infarct volume (control: 64.9 ± 6 %, IDRW: 40.3 ± 4 %). IDRW is also the only platform that showed an actual treatment effect among all forced training platforms.


This study confirmed that forced rehabilitation training models require proper control to achieve certain treatment effects. In other words, when forcing rats to exercise, it is important to reduce their psychological burden and prevent them from suffering secondary injuries. Therefore, this model provides an objective and effective experimental platform for clinical researchers conducting sports physiology studies.

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