Identifying the role of the reticulospinal tract for strength and motor recovery: A scoping review of nonhuman and human studies

Yonas Akalu, Ashlyn Frazer, Glyn Howatson, Alan J. Pearce, Ummatul Siddique, Mohamad Rostami, Jamie Tallent, Dawson Kidgell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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In addition to the established postural control role of the reticulospinal tract (RST), there has been an increasing interest on its involvement in strength, motor recovery, and other gross motor functions. However, there are no reviews that have systematically assessed the overall motor function of the RST. Therefore, we aimed to determine the role of the RST underpinning motor function and recovery. We performed a literature search using Ovid Medline, Embase, CINAHL Plus, and Scopus to retrieve papers using key words for RST, strength, and motor recovery. Human and animal studies which assessed the role of RST were included. Studies were screened and 32 eligible studies were included for the final analysis. Of these, 21 of them were human studies while the remaining were on monkeys and rats. Seven experimental animal studies and four human studies provided evidence for the involvement of the RST in motor recovery, while two experimental animal studies and eight human studies provided evidence for strength gain. The RST influenced gross motor function in two experimental animal studies and five human studies. Overall, the RST has an important role for motor recovery, gross motor function and at least in part, underpins strength gain. The role of RST for strength gain in healthy people and its involvement in spasticity in a clinical population has been limitedly described. Further studies are required to ascertain the role of the RST's role in enhancing strength and its contribution to the development of spasticity.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15765
Number of pages26
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number14
Early online date20 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2023

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