Anodal transcutaneous DC stimulation enhances learning of dynamic balance control during walking in humans with spinal cord injury

Jui Te Lin, Chao Jung Hsu, Weena Dee, David Chen, W. Zev Rymer, Ming Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Deficits in locomotor function, including impairments in walking speed and balance, are major problems for many individuals with incomplete spinal cord injury (iSCI). However, it remains unclear which type of training paradigms are more effective in improving balance, particularly dynamic balance, in individuals with iSCI. The purpose of this study was to determine whether anodal transcutaneous spinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) can facilitate learning of balance control during walking in individuals with iSCI. Fifteen individuals with iSCI participated in this study and were tested in two sessions (i.e., tsDCS and sham conditions). Each session consisted of 1 min of treadmill walking without stimulation or perturbation (baseline), 10 min of walking with either anodal tsDCS or sham stimulation, paired with bilateral pelvis perturbation (adaptation), and finally 2 min of walking without stimulation and perturbation (post-adaptation). The outcome measures were the dynamic balance, assessed using the minimal margin of stability (MoS), and electromyography of leg muscles. Participants demonstrated a smaller MoS during the late adaptation period for the anodal tsDCS condition compared to sham (p = 0.041), and this MoS intended to retain during the early post-adaptation period (p = 0.05). In addition, muscle activity of hip abductors was greater for the anodal tsDCS condition compared to sham during the late adaptation period and post-adaptation period (p < 0.05). Results from this study suggest that anodal tsDCS may modulate motor adaptation to pelvis perturbation and facilitate learning of dynamic balance control in individuals with iSCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1943-1955
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Volume240
Issue number7-8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Locomotion
  • Motor adaptation
  • Neuromodulation
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spinal stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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