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Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2005 Mar;19(1):33-45.

Massed practice versus massed practice with stimulation: effects on upper extremity function and cortical plasticity in individuals with incomplete cervical spinal cord injury.

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The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA.



To determine the effect of massed practice (MP) versus massed practice combined with somatosensory stimulation (MP+SS) on cortical plasticity and function in persons with incomplete tetraplegia.


Ten subjects were assigned to either MP or MP+SS. Median nerve stimulation (500 ms train, 10 Hz, 1 ms pulse duration) was delivered at the intensity eliciting a motor threshold response. Training sessions were 5 d/week for 3 weeks at 2 h/session. Outcome measures included 1) motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) elicited via transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), motor threshold (MT) and MEP amplitude at 1.2 MT; 2) maximal pinch grip force; 3) Wolf Motor Function Test (WMFT) and Jebsen Hand Function Test.


The MP+SS group demonstrated significant improvements (P < 0.05) in pinch grip strength (190%), WMFT scores (52%), and Jebsen test scores (33%), whereas the MP group demonstrated significant improvement (P < 0.05) only in Jebsen test scores (11%). No significant changes were detected in cortical excitability in the MP+SS or MP group.


The findings of this preliminary study suggest that MP+SS results in greater increases in pinch strength and timed functional test scores than MP. Optimal stimulation paradigms and training methods are needed to further test this strategy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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