Effects of transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation on voluntary locomotor activity in an incomplete spinal cord injured individual.
Hofstoetter US, Hofer C, Kern H, Danner SM, Mayr W, Dimitrijevic MR, Minassian K
Non-patterned electrical spinal cord stimulation (SCS) via epidural electrodes can activate neural circuits involved in lower-limb motor control in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI), and generate automatic, rhythmic flexion-extension movements in the paralyzed lower limbs. Here, we studied whether SCS can increase the excitability of locomotor circuits in a motor-incomplete SCI individual capable of voluntary treadmill stepping without support and whether this augmentation can be integrated into the residual voluntary motor control. SCS was applied through skin electrodes during active treadmill stepping. Sub-motor stimulation enhanced the voluntary lower limb EMG activities in a step-phase appropriate manner as well as reproducibly modified the coordination of hip and knee movements during stepping. Further study in a larger population is warranted.