Afferent electrical stimulation during cycling improves spinal processing of sensorimotor function after incomplete spinal cord injury

Stefano Piazza*, Diego Serrano-Muñoz, Julio Gómez-Soriano, Diego Torricelli, Antonio Segura-Fragosa, Jose L Pons, Julian Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Appropriate afferent feedback delivery during the execution of motor tasks is important for rehabilitation after incomplete spinal cord injury (iSCI). However, during leg-cycling therapy, the plantar afferent feedback is minimal. We hypothesize that the augmentation of sensory input by combining cycling with a locomotor-like stimulation of plantar cutaneous innervations (ES-cycling), might help to restore proper spinal processing of sensorimotor function. METHODS: Thirteen non-injured subjects and 10 subjects with iSCI performed 10 minutes of cycling and, on another session, of ES-cycling. To assess spinal processing of sensorimotor function, soleus H-reflex response was tested following a conditioning plantar electrical stimulation applied at 25-100 ms inter-stimulus intervals (ISI's), measured before and after the execution of the tasks. RESULTS: Before tasks execution, the conditioned H-reflex response was modulated in non-injured subjects, and absent in subjects with iSCI; after cycling, modulation profiles were unchanged. However, after ES-cycling a significant increase in H-reflex excitability was observed in the non-injured group at 100 ms ISI (p < 0.05), and in the iSCI group between 50-75 ms ISI (p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: The loss of reflex modulation in subjects with iSCI suggests reduced spinal processing of sensorimotor function. Reflex modulation recovery after ES-cycling may indicate the partial reactivation of these mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-437
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroRehabilitation
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • afferent feedback
  • leg-cycling
  • sensorimotor processing
  • soleus H-reflex
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology

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