Date of Last Revision

2023-05-03 12:53:04


Biomedical Engineering - Biomechanics

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Date of Expected Graduation

Spring 2019


There is a pressing need for advancements in peripheral nerve repair techniques and functional recovery evaluation methods. The rat sciatic nerve injury model is a well examined model for peripheral nerve repair. One measure of functional recovery after nerve damage, the sciatic functional index (SFI), fails in the presence of self-mutilation, toe contracture, and other abnormalities in gait. In this IACUC approved study, the sciatic nerve was severed in four experimental groups (n=5). The nerves were repaired with Arginylglycylaspartic acid-poly(ε-caprolactone) (RGD-PCL) peptide functionalized nanofibers, non-functionalized PCL control nanofibers, an isograft, and a negative control empty conduit. Video walking track analysis allowed for a retrospective analysis with three other evaluation techniques: imbalance coupling (IC), stance factor (SF), and toe out angle (TOA). While these techniques are independent of self-mutilation and toe contracture, walking speed remained as a confounding variable. One way repeated measures ANOVA tests showed no significant difference between treatments or subjects in SFI, SF, or TOA. For SFI, 6 and 12 week trials both saw significant increases over time (p=0.00 for both). A significant difference was found between treatments in IC (p=0.03). Imbalance coupling showed promising Pearson correlation with the current industry standard, SFI (p=0.03). In a regression model, SFI over time had an R-squared value of 94.5%. IC, SF, and TOA had low R-squared values. Future investigation with updated protocol is necessary to confirm the degree of correlation and to evaluate the potential for a new industry standard for evaluating nerve repair.

Research Sponsor

Dr. Rebecca K. Willits

First Reader

Dr. Lawrence D. Noble

Second Reader

Dr. Brian L. Davis



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