Background Electrical stimulation of the central and peripheral nervous systems is a common tool that is used to improve functional recovery after neuronal injury. Methods Here we described a new configuration of electrical stimulation as it was tested in anesthetized control and spinal cord injury (SCI) mice. Constant voltage output was delivered through two electrodes. While the negative voltage output (ranging from -1.8 to -2.6 V) was delivered to the muscle via transverse wire electrodes (diameter, 500 μm) located at opposite ends of the muscle, the positive output (ranging from + 2.4 to +3.2 V) was delivered to the primary motor cortex (M1) (electrode tip, 100 μm). The configuration was named dipolar cortico-muscular stimulation (dCMS) and consisted of 100 pulses (1 ms pulse duration, 1 Hz frequency). Results In SCI animals, after dCMS, cortically-elicited muscle contraction improved markedly at the contralateral (456%) and ipsilateral (457%) gastrocnemius muscles. The improvement persisted for the duration of the experiment (60 min). The enhancement of cortically-elicited muscle contraction was accompanied by the reduction of M1 maximal threshold and the potentiation of spinal motoneuronal evoked responses at the contralateral (313%) and ipsilateral (292%) sides of the spinal cord. Moreover, spontaneous activity recorded from single spinal motoneurons was substantially increased contralaterally (121%) and ipsilaterally (54%). Interestingly, spinal motoneuronal responses and muscle twitches evoked by the test stimulation of non-treated M1 (received no dCMS) were significantly enhanced as well. Similar results obtained from normal animals albeit the changes were relatively smaller. Conclusion These findings demonstrated that dCMS could improve functionality of corticomotoneuronal pathway and thus it may have therapeutic potential.
Ahmed, Z. (2010). Dipolar cortico-muscular electrical stimulation: a novel method that enhances motor function in both - normal and spinal cord injured mice. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 7, 46-46. doi:10.1186/1743-0003-7-46.