Multiple Head Rotations Result in Persistent Gait Alterations in Piglets
Multiple/repeated mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in young children can cause long-term gait impairments and affect the developmental course of motor control. Using our swine model for mTBI in young children, our aim was to (i) establish a reference range (RR) for each parameter to validate injury and track recovery, and (ii) evaluate changes in gait patterns following a single and multiple (5×) sagittal rapid non-impact head rotation (RNR). Gait patterns were studied in four groups of 4-week-old Yorkshire swine: healthy (n = 18), anesthesia-only sham (n = 8), single RNR injury (n = 12) and multiple RNR injury (n = 11). Results were evaluated pre-injury and at 1, 4, and 7 days post-injury. RR reliability was validated using additional healthy animals (n = 6). Repeated mTBI produced significant increases in gait time, cycle time, and stance time, as well as decreases in gait velocity and cadence, on Day One post-injury compared to pre-injury, and these remained significantly altered at Day Four and Day Seven post-injury. The gait metrics of the repeated TBI group also significantly fell outside the healthy RR on Day One, with some recovery by Day Four, while many remained altered at Day Seven. Only a bilateral decrease in hind stride length was observed at Day Four in our single RNR group compared to pre-injury. In sum, repeated and single sagittal TBI can significantly impair motor performance, and gait metrics can serve as reliable, objective, quantitative functional assessments in a juvenile porcine RNR TBI model.