Objective: We investigated the combined effects of electrical stimulation and testosterone propionate on overall recovery time in rats with extracranial crush injuries to the facial nerve. Study Design: Male rats underwent castration 3 to 5 days prior to right facial nerve crush injury and electrode implantation. Rats were randomly assigned to two groups: crush injury + testosterone or crush injury with electrical stimulation + testosterone. Recovery was assessed by daily subjective examination documenting vibrissae orientation/movement, semi-eye blink, and full eye blink. Results: Milestones of early recovery were noted to be significantly earlier in the groups with electrical stimulation, with/without testosterone. The addition of testosterone to electrical stimulation showed significant earlier return of late recovery parameters and complete overall recovery. Conclusion: Electrical stimulation may decrease cell death or promote sprouting to accelerate early recovery. Testosterone may affect the actual rate of axonal regeneration and produce acceleration in functional recovery. By targeting different stages of neural regeneration, the synergy of electrical stimulation and testosterone appears to have promise as a neurotherapeutic strategy for facial nerve injury.
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