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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Vol. 40 No. 4, July/August 2003, Supplement
Pages 35 — 40

Methods to measure sensory function in humans versus animals

Alberto Martinez-Arizala, MD
Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence in Functional Recovery in Chronic Spinal Cord Injury, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Miami, FL; The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Abstract — Sensation is perhaps one of the most complex senses. It allows us to experience our environment, and it provides ongoing feedback for the performance of accurate motor tasks. The present methods used for clinical testing of sensation in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) rely on traditional techniques developed many years ago. This type of testing has been incorporated into the ASIA (American Spinal Injury Association) score, which has become the principal instrument for measuring the recovery of sensory function in humans. Unfortunately, the ASIA score lacks sophistication and is not quantitative. Similar shortcomings are found in the testing of sensation in experimental animal models of SCI. Although highly refined methods have been developed for the study of sensation and pain perception in animals, these methods have not been incorporated for measuring recovery of function in experimental SCI. A review of the available literature suggests that further refined and quantifiable tests need to be developed in this area.
Key words: current perception thresholds, quantitative sensory testing, sensory systems, spinal cord injury, thermal somatosensory testing.
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