Spinal Walking

Special thanks for use of the below [VIDEO clip] to Dr. Clemmons, UF Associate Professor Neurology and Neurosurgery Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, U of F and to Buc's mom, Amy Reynolds, UF Veterinary Neurology Technician

Spinal walking due to the "crossed extensor reflex" in a dog who no longer has deep pain sensation (DPS).



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"Animals have locomotor automatism, meaning that the basics of walking are hardwired into the spinal cord of domestic species.

The brainstem adds the remaining ingredients for rudimentary, voluntary locomotor activity. The cerebellum adds smoothness while the cerebral cortex provides behavioral direction." The Neurologic Examination. R.M. Clemmons, DVM, PhD

While a dog with severe spinal cord injury does not have deep pain sensation meaning their legs can no longer communicate with the brain, some figure out how to "walk" by using their rear limb reflexes. They learn to swing their legs into position underneath the body. The leg movements look jerky or motorized. The "walk" is in a straight line, as the brain is not involved to tell the legs to change direction to avoid falling.