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William L. Siler, Ph.d.
07-09-1996, 12:02 AM
Colleagues:

I have become involved in a collaboration with a neuroscientist who is using
a rat model to investigate spinal cord injuries. After pilot work and reading,
I am looking into using using swimming as a task. Unfortunately, I have had
a difficult time finding literature focusing upon the kinematics of swimming
by rats and I have several methodological concerns. I would greatly
appreciate any answers to the following questions:

1) Should the containment system be made of plexiglass or glass? Whatever
material selected has to stand up to the stresses of the cage washer but
I also wonder whether one material will introduce a greater amount of
distortion than the other. Are there other considerations in making this
choice?

2) Can the methodologies used to analyze human swimming be applied directly
or does the more confined nature of a rat in a box relative to a human
in a pool alter the equation? More specifically, how can I best deal
with the distortions I expect due to the confinement system and water?

3) Can rats with paralyzed hindlimbs swim? Obviously, I could take some
of the pilot animals drop them in an aquarium but I hate to stress the
animals in that way if some of you already know the answer. Besides,
my past experiences with stressed rats resulted in blood loss (mine) and
a tetanus shot that hurt worse than the bites.

Thank you for your time and consideration of these questions. I will happily
post any responses.

Sincerely,

William (Bill) Siler, Ph.D.
Saint Louis University
silerwl@sluvca.slu.edu