[Abstract] Single Session of Functional Electrical Stimulation−Assisted Walking Produces Corticomotor Symmetry Changes Related to Changes in Poststroke Walking Mechanics

Abstract

Background: Recent research demonstrated that symmetry of corticomotor drive to paretic and nonparetic plantarflexor muscles are related to the biomechanical ankle moment strategy that individuals with chronic stroke used to achieve their greatest walking speeds. Rehabilitation strategies that promote corticomotor balance could potentially improve post-stroke walking mechanics and enhance functional ambulation.

Objective: To 1) test the effectiveness of a single session of gait training using functional electrical stimulation (FES) to improve plantarflexor corticomotor symmetry and plantarflexion ankle moment symmetry and 2) determine if changes in corticomotor symmetry relate to changes in ankle moment symmetry within the session.

Design: A repeated measures cross-over study.

Methods: On separate days, twenty individuals with chronic stroke completed a session of treadmill walking either with or without the use of FES to their ankle dorsi- and plantarflexors muscles. We calculated plantarflexor corticomotor symmetry using transcranial magnetic stimulation and plantarflexion ankle moment symmetry during walking between the paretic and nonparetic limbs before and after each session. We compared changes and tested relationships between corticomotor and ankle moment symmetry following each session.

Results: Following the session with FES there was an increase in plantarflexor corticomotor symmetry that was related to the observed increase in ankle moment symmetry. In contrast, following the session without FES there were no changes in corticomotor symmetry or ankle moment symmetry.

Limitations: No stratification was made based on lesion size, location, or clinical severity.

Conclusions: For the first time, these findings demonstrate the ability of a single session of gait training with FES to induce positive corticomotor plasticity in individuals in the chronic stage of stroke recovery and provide insight into the neurophysiologic mechanisms underlying improvements in biomechanical walking function.

Source: Single Session of Functional Electrical Stimulation−Assisted Walking Produces Corticomotor Symmetry Changes Related to Changes in Poststroke Walking Mechanics | Physical Therapy | Oxford Academic

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