Effects of spinal cord stimulation on motor functions in children with cerebral palsy
Is it possible to regulate the functional properties of abnormally developed spinal neuronal locomotor networks using transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation? This question has been studied in twenty-eight participants (~9 yrs) with spastic cerebral palsy, and mainly Gross Motor Function Classification System for Cerebral Palsy level III. The participants were randomly assigned to two groups. The experimental group received transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation at two spinal levels (over T11 and L1 spinous processes), combined with locomotor treadmill training, whereas the participants of the control group received locomotor treadmill training only. After spinal cord stimulation in the experimental group we found an incremental increase in knee torque whereas in the control group this effect was absent. The amplitude of hip motion increased in both groups. A decrease of co-activation of hip and muscles of the lower extremities was observed in the experimental group while in the control group co-activation decreased only in hip muscles. The results support the idea that locomotor function can be improved significantly with the combination of training and transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation than with training alone.
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