Childhood is one the highest risk periods for experiencing a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) from sports-related concussions, motor vehicle accidents, and falls. In addition, many children experience lingering symptomology (post-concussion syndrome) from these closed head injuries. Although the negative sequel of mTBI has been described, a clinically reliable animal model of mild pediatric brain injury has not. The purpose of this study was to examine the validity of a modified weight-drop technique as a model for the induction of mTBI/concussion in juvenile rats following a single impact. Male and female rats (P30) were exposed to a single mTBI or a sham injury followed by a behavioral test battery. Juvenile rats who experienced a single mTBI displayed significant motor/balance impairments when tested on the beam walking task and in the open field, as well as deficits of executive functioning as measured with the novel context mismatch task and the probe trial of the Morris water task. In addition, both male and female rats showed depression-like behavior in the forced swim task, with male rats also exhibiting decreased anxiety-related behaviors in the elevated plus maze. The results from this study suggest that the modified weight-drop technique induces a clinically relevant behavioral phenotype in juvenile rats, and may provide researchers with a reliable animal model of mTBI/concussion from which clinical therapeutic strategies could be developed.
- executive function
- sex differences