Constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) is an effective treatment promoting motor recovery of upper extremity function in stroke patients. The objective of the present study was to determine the effect of CIMT on the evoked potentials in rats with focal cerebral cortical ischemia induced by endothelin-1 (ET-1). Thirty rats were randomly assigned to the sham, infarct or CIMT groups. ET-1 was injected stereotaxically into the forelimb area of the cerebral cortex in the dominant hemisphere. Custom-made constraint jackets were applied to limit movement of the unaffected forelimb in the CIMT group. Motor and sensory function of the forelimb was evaluated by a pellet retrieval task and forearm asymmetry test. Electrophysiologic changes were evaluated by motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) and somatosensory-evoked potentials (SEPs). The location and extent of cerebral ischemia were confirmed and compared histologically. The CIMT group showed better recovery in the pellet retrieval task. Forelimb use was more symmetrical in the CIMT group. The waveform of the SEP was reversed and delayed in the infarct group, but it was preserved in the CIMT group with amplitude decrease only. The estimated volume of infarction was smaller in the CIMT group, although statistically not significant. The results demonstrate that CIMT can promote recovery of motor function in focal cerebral cortical infarcts, and that recovery may be related to reorganization of the cerebral neuronal network in the somatosensory pathway.
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