Locomotor training modifies soleus monosynaptic motoneuron responses in human spinal cord injury

Andrew C. Smith, William Zev Rymer, Maria Knikou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to assess changes in monosynaptic motoneuron responses to stimulation of Ia afferents after locomotor training in individuals with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI). We hypothesized that locomotor training modifies the amplitude of the soleus monosynaptic motoneuron responses in a body position-dependent manner. Fifteen individuals with chronic clinical motor complete or incomplete SCI received an average of 45 locomotor training sessions. The soleus H-reflex and M-wave recruitment curves were assembled using data collected in both the right and left legs, with subjects seated and standing, before and after training. The soleus H-reflexes and M-waves, measured as peak-to-peak amplitudes, were normalized to the maximal M-wave (Mmax). Stimulation intensities were normalized to 50 % Mmax stimulus intensity. A sigmoid function was also fitted to the normalized soleus H-reflexes on the ascending limb of the recruitment curve. After training, soleus H-reflex excitability was increased in both legs in AIS C subjects, and remained unchanged in AIS A-B and AIS D subjects during standing. When subjects were seated, soleus H-reflex excitability was decreased after training in many AIS C and D subjects. Changes in reflex excitability coincided with changes in stimulation intensities at H-threshold, 50 % maximal H-reflex, and at maximal H-reflex, while an interaction between leg side and AIS scale for the H-reflex slope was also found. Adaptations of the intrinsic properties of soleus motoneurons and Ia afferents, the excitability profile of the soleus motoneuron pool, oligosynaptic inputs, and corticospinal inputs may all contribute to these changes. The findings of this study demonstrate that locomotor training impacts the amplitude of the monosynaptic motoneuron responses based on the demands of the motor task in people with chronic SCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-103
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Input–output curve
  • Neuromodulation
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Plasticity
  • Recruitment
  • Rehabilitation
  • Soleus H-reflex
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Treadmill training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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