02139-A: Development of a Neuromusculoskeletal Computer Simulation Gait Model to Characterize Functional Recovery in Dogs with Intervertebral Disk Herniation

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $12,740
Gina E Bertocci, PhD; University of Louisville
September 1, 2014 - August 31, 2017

Sponsor(s): Dachshund Club of America

Breed(s): Dachshund
Research Program Area: Neurology
Donate to Support this Research Program Area


Intervertebral disk herniation (IVDH) leads to spinal cord injury (SCI) in dogs. The most commonly affected breed is the Dachshund, of which 19% develop IVDH. IVDH compresses the spinal cord and can lead to paralysis, incontinence, reduced quality of life, permanent neurological deficits and secondary conditions. Dogs that receive decompressive surgery (standard of care) and rehabilitation immediately following IVDH may regain the ability to walk. Certain aspects of recovery, such as muscle activation patterns, are not clearly understood and play a pivotal role in whether dogs regain full function of their limbs. Scientists know that neurologic disruption following IVDH alters muscle recruitment strategies leading to compensatory changes in muscle function post-injury. An improved understanding of muscle activation during walking following IVDH-associated SCI is paramount to developing strategies to enable full recovery. The goal of Dr. Bertocci's study is to characterize individual muscle activation patterns during walking. Her research group is responsible for development of landmark computer simulation techniques that have transformed our understanding of Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease. She will now apply this successful methodology to IVDD and assess muscle function in: 1) a healthy Dachshund, 2) a Dachshund with moderate IVDH-associated SCI following surgical decompression at multiple time points during recovery. Proof-of-principle computer models will be developed based on medical imaging, and hind-limb motion, ground reaction forces, and body weight support provided during walking. They will characterize differences in hind-limb motion and muscle activation patterns during walking between the healthy dog and dog with SCI, as well as differences in the dog with SCI throughout recovery. Their outcomes will enhance understanding of functional recovery following surgical treatment of IVDH, which will provide a foundation for improved clinical decision making regarding treatment options and investigating future therapeutic interventions.

Funding for the research is provided through the efforts and generosity of the Dachshund Club of America.


Brown, N. P., Bertocci, G. E., States, G. J. R., Levine, G. J., Levine, J. M., & Howland, D. R. (2020). Development of a Canine Rigid Body Musculoskeletal Computer Model to Evaluate Gait. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fbioe.2020.00150

Help Future Generations of Dogs

Participate in canine health research by providing samples or by enrolling in a clinical trial. Samples are needed from healthy dogs and dogs affected by specific diseases.

Learn How to Help

Get Canine Health News:
Please leave this field empty
American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, Inc

8051 Arco Corporate Dr.
Suite 300
Raleigh, NC 27617

Tax ID# 13-3813813


© 2021 AKC Canine Health Foundation | Privacy Policy | Site Map

Site by Blackbaud, Inc.