Taccola et al., 2020 3

2020 - Brain Stimulation, Volume 13, Issue 1, January–February 2020, Pages 20-34 | https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2019.09.013

Using EMG to deliver lumbar dynamic electrical stimulation to facilitate cortico-spinal excitability

Taccola G, Gad P, Culaclii S, Ichiyama RM, Liu W, Edgerton VR.


Highlights: Threshold electrical stimuli to the cord generate small and variable reflexes; DS induces a short-term increase in spinal cord excitability; DS increases spinally-induced responses more than tonic stimulation; DS facilitates the reappearance of cortically-evoked muscle responses; DS restores the motor output shortly after a calibrated spinal contusion.


Background: Potentiation of synaptic activity in spinal networks is reflected in the magnitude of modulation of motor responses evoked by spinal and cortical input. After spinal cord injury, motor evoked responses can be facilitated by pairing cortical and peripheral nerve stimuli.


Objective: To facilitate synaptic potentiation of cortico-spinal input with epidural electrical stimulation, we designed a novel neuromodulation method called dynamic stimulation (DS), using patterns derived from hind limb EMG signal during stepping.


Methods: DS was applied dorsally to the lumbar enlargement through a high-density epidural array composed of independent platinum-based micro-electrodes.


Results: In fully anesthetized intact adult rats, at the interface array/spinal cord, the temporal and spatial features of DS neuromodulation affected the entire lumbosacral network, particularly the most rostral and caudal segments covered by the array. DS induced a transient (at least 1 min) increase in spinal cord excitability and, compared to tonic stimulation, generated a more robust potentiation of the motor output evoked by single pulses applied to the spinal cord. When sub-threshold pulses were selectively applied to a cortical motor area, EMG responses from the contralateral leg were facilitated by the delivery of DS to the lumbosacral cord. Finally, based on motor-evoked responses, DS was linked to a greater amplitude of motor output shortly after a calibrated spinal cord contusion.


Conclusion: Compared to traditional tonic waveforms, DS amplifies both spinal and cortico-spinal input aimed at spinal networks, thus significantly increasing the potential and accelerating the rate of functional recovery after a severe spinal lesion.



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