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Multi-Site Spinal Cord Transcutaneous Stimulation Facilitates Upper Limb Sensory and Motor Recovery in Severe Cervical Spinal Cord Injury: A Case Study

Edited from Journal of Clinical Medicine

Morphometric analysis of the injured spinal cord. Individuals with cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) rank regaining arm and hand function as their top rehabilitation priority post-injury. Cervical spinal cord transcutaneous stimulation (scTS) combined with activity-based recovery training (ABRT) is known to effectively facilitate upper extremity sensorimotor recovery in individuals with residual arm and hand function post SCI. However, scTS effectiveness in facilitating upper extremity recovery in individuals with severe SCI with minimal to no sensory and motor preservation below injury level remains largely unknown. We herein introduced a multimodal neuro-rehabilitative approach involving scTS targeting systematically identified various spinal segments combined with ABRT.

We hypothesized that multi-site scTS combined with ABRT will effectively neuromodulate the spinal networks, resulting in improved integration of ascending and descending neural information required for sensory and motor recovery in individuals with severe cervical SCI. To test the hypothesis, a 53-year-old male (C2, AIS A, 8 years post-injury) received 60 ABRT sessions combined with continuous multi-site scTS. Post-training assessments revealed improved activation of previously paralyzed upper extremity muscles and sensory improvements over the dorsal and volar aspects of the hand. Most likely, altered spinal cord excitability and improved muscle activation and sensations resulted in observed sensorimotor recovery. However, despite promising neurophysiological evidence pertaining to motor re-activation, we did not observe visually appreciable functional recovery on obtained upper extremity motor assessments.

This journal was authored by:

  • Pawan Sharma
  • Tudor Panta
  • Beatrice Ugiliweneza
  • Robert J Bert
  • Yury Gerasimenko
  • Gail Forrest
  • Susan Harkema

Read the entire Published Article in Journal of Clinical Medicine

Posted in Publications