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J Neurotrauma. 2014 Jun 15;31(12):1088-106. doi: 10.1089/neu.2013.3096. Epub 2014 Apr 30.

Effect of combined treadmill training and magnetic stimulation on spasticity and gait impairments after cervical spinal cord injury.

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1 Department of Physiological Sciences, University of Florida , Gainesville, Florida.


Spasticity and gait impairments are two common disabilities after cervical spinal cord injury (C-SCI). In this study, we tested the therapeutic effects of early treadmill locomotor training (Tm) initiated at postoperative (PO) day 8 and continued for 6 weeks with injury site transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMSsc) on spasticity and gait impairments after low C6/7 moderate contusion C-SCI in a rat model. The combined treatment group (Tm+TMSsc) showed the most robust decreases in velocity-dependent ankle torques and triceps surae electromyography burst amplitudes that were time locked to the initial phase of lengthening, as well as the most improvement in limb coordination quantitated using three-dimensional kinematics and CatWalk gait analyses, compared to the control or single-treatment groups. These significant treatment-associated decreases in measures of spasticity and gait impairment were also accompanied by marked treatment-associated up-regulation of dopamine beta-hydroxylase, glutamic acid decarboxylase 67, gamma-aminobutyric acid B receptor, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the lumbar spinal cord (SC) segments of the treatment groups, compared to tissues from the C-SCI nontreated animals. We propose that the treatment-induced up-regulation of these systems enhanced the adaptive plasticity in the SC, in part through enhanced expression of pre- and postsynaptic reflex regulatory processes. Further, we propose that locomotor exercise in the setting of C-SCI may decrease aspects of the spontaneous maladaptive segmental and descending plasticity. Accordingly, TMSsc treatment is characterized as an adjuvant stimulation that may further enhance this capacity. These data are the first to suggest that a combination of Tm and TMSsc across the injury site can be an effective treatment modality for C-SCI-induced spasticity and gait impairments and provided a pre-clinical demonstration for feasibility and efficacy of early TMSsc intervention after C-SCI.


ankle torque; locomotor training; magnetic stimulation, spasticity; spasticity; spinal cord injury

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