Targeted, activity-dependent spinal stimulation produces long-lasting motor recovery in chronic cervical spinal cord injury

Jacob G. McPherson, Robert R. Miller, Steve I. Perlmutter, Mu Ming Poo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

Use-dependent movement therapies can lead to partial recovery of motor function after neurological injury. We attempted to improve recovery by developing a neuroprosthetic intervention that enhances movement therapy by directing spike timing-dependent plasticity in spared motor pathways. Using a recurrent neural-computer interface in rats with a cervical contusion of the spinal cord, we synchronized intraspinal microstimulation below the injury with the arrival of functionally related volitional motor commands signaled by muscle activity in the impaired forelimb. Stimulation was delivered during physical retraining of a forelimb behavior and throughout the day for 3 mo. Rats receiving this targeted, activity-dependent spinal stimulation (TADSS) exhibited markedly enhanced recovery compared with animals receiving targeted but open-loop spinal stimulation and rats receiving physical retraining alone. On a forelimb reach and grasp task, TADSS animals recovered 63% of their prein-jury ability, more than two times the performance level achieved by the other therapy groups. Therapeutic gains were maintained for 3 additional wk without stimulation. The results suggest that activity-dependent spinal stimulation can induce neural plasticity that improves behavioral recovery after spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12193-12198
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume112
Issue number39
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 29 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Recurrent neural-computer interface
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spike timing-dependent plasticity
  • Spinal cord injury

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