Recovery cycles of posterior root-muscle reflexes evoked by transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation and of the H reflex in individuals with intact and injured spinal cord

Autoři: Ursula S. Hofstoetter aff001;  Brigitta Freundl aff002;  Heinrich Binder aff002;  Karen Minassian aff001
Působiště autorů: Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Medical University Vienna, Vienna, Austria aff001;  Neurological Center, Maria Theresien Schloessel, Otto Wagner Hospital, Vienna, Austria aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(12)
Kategorie: Research Article


Posterior root-muscle (PRM) reflexes are short-latency spinal reflexes evoked by epidural or transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation (SCS) in clinical and physiological studies. PRM reflexes share key physiological characteristics with the H reflex elicited by electrical stimulation of large-diameter muscle spindle afferents in the tibial nerve. Here, we compared the H reflex and the PRM reflex of soleus in response to transcutaneous stimulation by studying their recovery cycles in ten neurologically intact volunteers and ten individuals with traumatic, chronic spinal cord injury (SCI). The recovery cycles of the reflexes, i.e., the time course of their excitability changes, were assessed by paired pulses with conditioning-test intervals of 20–5000 ms. Between the subject groups, no statistical difference was found for the recovery cycles of the H reflexes, yet those of the PRM reflexes differed significantly, with a striking suppression in the intact group. When comparing the reflex types, they did not differ in the SCI group, while the PRM reflexes were more strongly depressed in the intact group for durations characteristic for presynaptic inhibition. These differences may arise from the concomitant stimulation of several posterior roots containing afferent fibers of various lower extremity nerves by transcutaneous SCS, producing multi-source heteronymous presynaptic inhibition, and the collective dysfunction of inhibitory mechanisms after SCI contributing to spasticity. PRM-reflex recovery cycles additionally obtained for bilateral rectus femoris, biceps femoris, tibialis anterior, and soleus all demonstrated a stronger suppression in the intact group. Within both subject groups, the thigh muscles showed a stronger recovery than the lower leg muscles, which may reflect a characteristic difference in motor control of diverse muscles. Based on the substantial difference between intact and SCI individuals, PRM-reflex depression tested with paired pulses could become a sensitive measure for spasticity and motor recovery.

Klíčová slova:

Depression – Electromyography – Functional electrical stimulation – Legs – Muscle analysis – Reflexes – Spinal cord injury


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