It has been suggested that neuroplasticity-promoting neuromodulation can restore sensory-motor pathways after spinal cord injury (SCI), reactivating the dormant locomotor neuronal circuitry. We introduce a neuro-rehabilitative approach that leverages locomotor training with multi-segmental spinal cord transcutaneous electrical stimulation (scTS). We hypothesized that scTS neuromodulates spinal networks, complementing the neuroplastic effects of locomotor training, result in a functional progression toward recovery of locomotion. We conducted a case-study to test this approach on a 27-year-old male classified as AIS A with chronic SCI. The training regimen included task-driven non-weight-bearing training (1 month) followed by weight-bearing training (2 months). Training was paired with multi-level continuous and phase-dependent scTS targeting function-specific motor pools. Results suggest a convergence of cross-lesional networks, improving kinematics during voluntary non-weight-bearing locomotor-like stepping. After weight-bearing training, coordination during stepping improved, suggesting an important role of afferent feedback in further improvement of voluntary control and reorganization of the sensory-motor brain-spinal connectome.

Novel Noninvasive Spinal Neuromodulation Strategy Facilitates Recovery of Stepping after Motor Complete Paraplegia

Federica Gonnelli;
2022-01-01

Abstract

It has been suggested that neuroplasticity-promoting neuromodulation can restore sensory-motor pathways after spinal cord injury (SCI), reactivating the dormant locomotor neuronal circuitry. We introduce a neuro-rehabilitative approach that leverages locomotor training with multi-segmental spinal cord transcutaneous electrical stimulation (scTS). We hypothesized that scTS neuromodulates spinal networks, complementing the neuroplastic effects of locomotor training, result in a functional progression toward recovery of locomotion. We conducted a case-study to test this approach on a 27-year-old male classified as AIS A with chronic SCI. The training regimen included task-driven non-weight-bearing training (1 month) followed by weight-bearing training (2 months). Training was paired with multi-level continuous and phase-dependent scTS targeting function-specific motor pools. Results suggest a convergence of cross-lesional networks, improving kinematics during voluntary non-weight-bearing locomotor-like stepping. After weight-bearing training, coordination during stepping improved, suggesting an important role of afferent feedback in further improvement of voluntary control and reorganization of the sensory-motor brain-spinal connectome.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11390/1231311
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