|Epidural Stimulation (ES) of the lumbosacral spinal cord has been used to facilitate standing and voluntary movement after clinically motor-complete spinal-cord injury.
It seems of importance to examine how the epidurally evoked potentials are modulated in the spinal circuitry and projected to various motor pools. We hypothesized that chronically implanted electrode arrays over the lumbosacral spinal cord can be used to assess functionally spinal circuitry linked to specific motor pools.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the functional and topographic organization of compound evoked potentials induced by the stimulation. Three individuals with complete motor paralysis of the lower limbs participated in the study. The evoked potentials to epidural spinal stimulation were investigated after surgery in a supine position and in one participant, during both supine and standing, with body weight load of 60%. The stimulation was delivered with intensity from 0.5 to 10 V at a frequency of 2 Hz. Recruitment curves of evoked potentials in knee and ankle muscles were collected at three localized and two wide-field stimulation configurations. Epidural electrical stimulation of rostral and caudal areas of lumbar spinal cord resulted in a selective topographical recruitment of proximal and distal leg muscles, as revealed by both magnitude and thresholds of the evoked potentials. ES activated both afferent and efferent pathways. The components of neural pathways that can mediate motor-evoked potentials were highly dependent on the stimulation parameters and sensory conditions, suggesting a weight-bearing-induced reorganization of the spinal circuitries.
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