Non-invasive Stimulation After Spinal Cord Injury

Author: Cell Press
Published: 2012/11/30 - Updated: 2022/01/30
Peer-Reviewed: N/A
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: Using noninvasive stimulation improved ability of people with spinal cord injuries to use their hands showing promise for treating partially paralyzed due to SCI. By using noninvasive stimulation, researchers were able to temporarily improve the ability of people with spinal cord injuries to use their hands. The findings hold promise in treating thousands of people in the United States alone who are partially paralyzed due to spinal cord injury. After the noninvasive treatment, the majority of the participants in the study could exert more force with their hand muscles. Those effects translated into greater manual dexterity when participants were asked to grasp and manipulate small pegs with their index fingers and thumbs.

Main Digest

By using noninvasive stimulation, researchers were able to temporarily improve the ability of people with spinal cord injuries to use their hands. The findings, reported on November 29th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, hold promise in treating thousands of people in the United States alone who are partially paralyzed due to spinal cord injury.

"This approach builds on earlier work and highlights the importance of the corticospinal tract - which conducts impulses from the brain's motor cortex to the spinal cord and is a major pathway contributing to voluntary movement - as an important target for intervention after spinal cord injury," said Monica Perez of the University of Pittsburgh.

The researchers tested the new method in 19 people with chronic cervical spinal cord injury and 14 uninjured people.

The treatment was customized to each individual and paired transcranial magnetic stimulation delivered to a specific part of the motor cortex with electrical stimulation to peripheral nerves found in the wrist. One hundred paired pulses were delivered every 10 seconds for a period of around 20 minutes to produce volleys of neural activity. The timing of arrival of those volleys in the spinal cord was absolutely essential to the treatment's success, the report shows.

Continued below image.
After non-invasive stimulation, people with spinal cord injuries showed greater manual dexterity when asked to grasp and manipulate small pegs with their index fingers and thumbs.
After non-invasive stimulation, people with spinal cord injuries showed greater manual dexterity when asked to grasp and manipulate small pegs with their index fingers and thumbs.
Continued...

"This short, noninvasive stimulation protocol has the potential to be used within a clinic setting as part of a rehabilitation technique," said study coauthor Karen Bunday, also of the University of Pittsburgh. "When pulses from the motor cortex were precisely timed to arrive at the spinal cord one or two milliseconds before pulses from the peripheral nerve, we observed an increase in spinal cord transmission and voluntary motor output for up to 80 minutes."

After the noninvasive treatment, the majority of the participants in the study could exert more force with their hand muscles. Those effects translated into greater manual dexterity when participants were asked to grasp and manipulate small pegs with their index fingers and thumbs.

More prolonged use of the technique or its combination with other rehabilitation strategies may well improve its therapeutic benefits, the researchers say. The protocol might also be used in the treatment of other kinds of motor disorders involving damage to the corticospinal tract.

"Human electro-physiology can be a powerful tool for developing therapies," Perez concluded. "We need to explore new targets to improve rehabilitation strategies by taking advantage of our knowledge in human physiology and their mechanisms."

Bunday et al.: "Strengthening residual corticospinal-motoneuronal synapses enhances voluntary motor output after human spinal cord injury."

Attribution/Source(s):

This quality-reviewed publication pertaining to our Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) section was selected for circulation by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our disability community readers. Though the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article "Non-invasive Stimulation After Spinal Cord Injury" was originally written by Cell Press, and submitted for publishing on 2012/11/30 (Edit Update: 2022/01/30). Should you require further information or clarification, Cell Press can be contacted at cell.com. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

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