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Muscle Plasticity in Rat Following Spinal Transection and Chronic Intraspinal Microstimulation

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3 Author(s)
Bamford, J.A. ; Centre for Neurosci., Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada ; Putman, C.T. ; Mushahwar, V.K.

Intraspinal microstimulation (ISMS) employs electrical stimulation of the ventral grey matter to reactivate paralyzed skeletal muscle. This work evaluated the transformations in the quadriceps muscle that occurred following complete transection and chronic stimulation with ISMS or a standard nerve cuff (NCS). Stimulation was applied for 30 days, 4 h/day. Both methods induced significant increases in time-to-peak tension (ISMS 35%, NCS 25%) and half rise-time (ISMS 39%, NCS 25%) compared to intact controls (IC). Corresponding increases in type-IIA myosin heavy chain (MHC) and decreases in type-IID MHC were noted compared to IC. These results were unexpected because ISMS recruits motor units in a near-normal physiological order while NCS recruits motor units in a reversed order. Spinal cord transection and 30 days of stimulation did not alter either recruitment profile. The slope of the force recruitment curves obtained through ISMS following transection and 30 days of stimulation was similar to that obtained in intact animals, and 3.4-fold shallower than that obtained through NCS. The transformations observed in the current work are best explained by the near maximal level of motor unit recruitment, the total daily time of activity and the tonic nature of the stimulation paradigm.

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Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 1 )