Background Neurotrauma patients face major neurological sequelae. The failure in the preclinical-to-clinical translation of candidate therapies could be due to poor evaluation of rodent behaviours after neurotrauma. New Method A home cage automated system was used to study the long term behaviour of individual rats with traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI) and non-CNS injured controls, whilst group-housed in their home cages. Naïve rats were used as baseline controls. Automated locomotor activity and body temperature recordings were carried out 24 h /day for 3 days/week during 12 weeks post-injury. Behavioural patterns, including aggression, rearing, grooming, feeding and drinking were analysed from automated video recordings during week 1, 6 and 12. Results SCI animals showed a lower locomotor activity compared to TBI or control animals during light and dark phases. TBI animals showed a higher aggression during the dark phase in the first week post-injury compared to SCI or control animals. Individual grooming and rearing were reduced in SCI animals compared to TBI and control animals in the first week post-injury during the dark phase. No differences in drinking or feeding were detected between groups. Locomotor activity did not differ between naïve male and female rats, but body temperature differ between light and dark phases for both. Standard methods Injury severity was compared to standard SCI and TBI behaviour scores (BBB and mNSS, respectively) and histological analysis. Conclusions This study demonstrates the practical benefits of using a non-intrusive automated home cage recording system to observe long term individual behaviour of group-housed SCI and TBI rats.
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury