According to researchers, although early in its development, spinal cord stimulation is one of the first-ever clinical tools with the potential to improve recovery for patients with severe spinal cord injuries.
The researchers analyzed two patients with complete spinal cord injuries who underwent spinal cord stimulation through the use of 16 contact paddle-style electrodes implanted at the level of the T11-12 vertebrae over the L1-S1 spinal cord segments. Implantation was performed at 2 years after the patients’ initial injuries, according to the researchers.
During treatment, the patients demonstrated the ability to perform movements of their lower extremities to verbal command; however, when spinal cord stimulation was turned off, no voluntary movement could be detected.
The researchers found appropriate ankle and toe muscle function was achieved during dorsiflexion testing with the use of epidural stimulation. They also detected reciprocal inhibition of antagonist muscles.
Finally, an evaluation to determine whether an intensive training program improved patient functioning demonstrated that the patients were able to perform movements of greater force at lower stimulation thresholds, according to the researchers.
The researchers concluded that the treatment could be even more effective in patients with less severe injuries than the two included in this study.
Disclosure: The authors have no relevant financial disclosures.