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Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2012 Jun;26(5):497-506. doi: 10.1177/1545968311423669. Epub 2011 Dec 16.

Changes in electrical perception threshold within the first 6 months after traumatic spinal cord injury: a multicenter responsiveness study.

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Balgrist University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland.



To assess the reliability of the electrical perception threshold (EPT) in healthy participants and its responsiveness in patients for 6 months after traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI).


The reliability of EPT measures was assessed in 15 healthy volunteers (from C3 to S2). EPT measures were assessed in 37 patients at 1, 3, and 6 months after SCI. EPT was determined in dermatomes at, above, and below the neurological level of lesion. Reliability was quantified with an intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and responsiveness with the standardized response mean (SRM). Dermatomes were classified as having normal or pathological sensory perception, based on both light touch (LT) and EPT testing. The percentage of agreement between LT and EPT classifications was determined.


The ICCs varied considerably between dermatomes (0.00 ≤ ICC ≤ 0.86). Overall, EPTs changed little within the first 6 months after SCI, resulting in small SRM values. Agreement between classifications according to EPT or LT testing varied from 30% to 100%. The least agreement was observed in the first segment below the lesion.


Future studies must note that the reliability of EPT differs between dermatomes in healthy participants. Furthermore, at and below the level of the lesion, spontaneous recovery of sensory perception is poor within the first 6 months after SCI. Based on subgroup analyses, if a translational trial aims to improve sensory perception around the level of the lesion, sensory-incomplete tetraplegic patients could be included. These patients show poor spontaneous recovery, and the EPT may detect subtle changes in perception.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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