Activity-dependent plasticity as a result of reorganization of neural circuits is a fundamental characteristic of the central nervous system that occurs simultaneously in multiple sites. In this study, we established the effects of subthreshold transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the primary motor cortex region on the tibialis anterior (TA) long-latency flexion reflex. Neurophysiological tests were conducted before and after robotic gait training in one person with a motor incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI) while at rest and during robotic-assisted stepping. The TA flexion reflex was evoked following nonnociceptive sural nerve stimulation and was conditioned by TMS at 0.9 TA motor evoked potential resting threshold at conditioning-test intervals that ranged from 70 to 130 ms. Subthreshold TMS induced a significant facilitation on the TA flexion reflex before training, which was reversed to depression after training with the subject seated at rest. During stepping, corticospinal facilitation of the flexion reflex at early and midstance phases before training was replaced with depression at early and midswing followed by facilitation at late swing after training. These results constitute the first neurophysiologic evidence that locomotor training reorganizes the cortical control of spinal interneuronal circuits that generate patterned motor activity, modifying spinal reflex function, in the chronic lesioned human spinal cord.
Hajela, Nupur; Mummidisetty, Chaithanya K.; Smith, Andrew C.; and Knikou, Maria, "Corticospinal Reorganization after Locomotor Training in a Person with Motor Incomplete Paraplegia" (2013). CUNY Academic Works.