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Recovery of Sensory and Supraspinal Control of Leg Movement in People With Chronic Paraplegia: A Case Series

  • Marc Possover
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author Marc Possover, MD, PhD, Department for Surgical Gynecology & Neuropelveology, Hirslanden Clinic, Witellikerstrasse 40, CH – 8032 Zurich, Switzerland.
    Affiliations
    Department of Gynecology & Neuropelveology, Hirslanden Clinic, Zurich, Switzerland
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Published:November 21, 2013DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2013.10.030

      Abstract

      Objective

      To report on unexpected findings in 4 patients with chronic paraplegia who underwent the laparoscopic implantation of neuroprosthesis procedure in the pelvic lumbosacral nerves.

      Design

      Observational case series.

      Setting

      Tertiary referral unit specialized in advanced gynecological surgery and neuropelveology.

      Participants

      Three patients with incomplete American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale (AIS) grade B (n=2) and AIS grade C (n=1) spinal cord injury (SCI) and 1 patient with flaccid complete chronic SCI (AIS grade A) (n=1).

      Intervention

      Functional electrical stimulation (FES)-assisted locomotor training and continuous low-frequency pelvic-lumbosacral neuromodulation.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Change in ASIA Lower Extremity Motor Scores, ASIA sensory scores for light touch and pinprick sensation, and Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury scores.

      Results

      All 4 patients developed progressive recovery of some sensory and voluntary motor functions below the lesions. Three are currently capable of voluntary weight-bearing standing and walking a few meters with a walker without FES. The first patient with the longest follow-up is even capable of electrically assisted standing/walking with 2 crutches without braces or assistance for a distance of about 900 meters, and of weight-bearing standing and walking for 30 meters with a walker without stimulation.

      Conclusions

      We report unexpected sensory and locomotor recovery in 4 people with paraplegia with SCI. Our findings suggest that FES-assisted locomotor training with continuous low-frequency pelvic nerve stimulation in patients with SCI may induce changes that affect the central pattern generator and allow supra- and infraspinal inputs to engage residual spinal pathways.

      Keywords

      List of abbreviations:

      AIS (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale), FES (functional electrical stimulation), SCI (spinal cord injury)
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