ResearchPad - spinal-cord-injury https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Effect of experimental, morphological and mechanical factors on the murine spinal cord subjected to transverse contusion: A finite element study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_8463 Finite element models combined with animal experimental models of spinal cord injury provides the opportunity for investigating the effects of the injury mechanism on the neural tissue deformation and the resulting tissue damage. Thus, we developed a finite element model of the mouse cervical spinal cord in order to investigate the effect of morphological, experimental and mechanical factors on the spinal cord mechanical behavior subjected to transverse contusion. The overall mechanical behavior of the model was validated with experimental data of unilateral cervical contusion in mice. The effects of the spinal cord material properties, diameter and curvature, and of the impactor position and inclination on the strain distribution were investigated in 8 spinal cord anatomical regions of interest for 98 configurations of the model. Pareto analysis revealed that the material properties had a significant effect (p<0.01) for all regions of interest of the spinal cord and was the most influential factor for 7 out of 8 regions. This highlighted the need for comprehensive mechanical characterization of the gray and white matter in order to develop effective models capable of predicting tissue deformation during spinal cord injuries.

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<![CDATA[Microglia exit the CNS in spinal root avulsion]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c79a3e5d5eed0c4841d1bf2

Microglia are central nervous system (CNS)-resident cells. Their ability to migrate outside of the CNS, however, is not understood. Using time-lapse imaging in an obstetrical brachial plexus injury (OBPI) model, we show that microglia squeeze through the spinal boundary and emigrate to peripheral spinal roots. Although both macrophages and microglia respond, microglia are the debris-clearing cell. Once outside the CNS, microglia re-enter the spinal cord in an altered state. These peripheral nervous system (PNS)-experienced microglia can travel to distal CNS areas from the injury site, including the brain, with debris. This emigration is balanced by two mechanisms—induced emigration via N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDA) dependence and restriction via contact-dependent cellular repulsion with macrophages. These discoveries open the possibility that microglia can migrate outside of their textbook-defined regions in disease states.

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<![CDATA[Mental health in individuals with spinal cord injury: The role of socioeconomic conditions and social relationships]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c76fe0dd5eed0c484e5b386

Objectives

To evaluate socioeconomic inequalities in social relationships, and to assess whether socioeconomic conditions and social relationships are independently related to mental health problems in individuals with a physical disability due to spinal cord injury (SCI).

Methods

We analyzed cross-sectional data from 511 individuals with SCI aged over 16 years who participated in the community survey of the Swiss SCI Cohort Study (SwiSCI). Indicators for socioeconomic conditions included years of formal education, household income, and financial strain. Social relationships were operationalized by three structural (partner status; social contact frequency; number of supportive relationships) and four functional aspects (satisfaction with: overall social support; family relationships; contacts to friends; partner relationship). General mental health was assessed by the Mental Health Inventory (MHI-5) of SF-36 and depressive symptoms were measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (depression subscale, HADS-D). Established cut-offs for general mental health problems (MHI-5 ≤56) and depressive symptomatology (HADS-D ≥8) were used to dichotomize outcomes. Associations were assessed using logistic regressions.

Results

Lower household income was predominantly associated with poor structural social relationships, whereas financial strain was robustly linked to poor functional social relationships. Financial strain was associated with general mental health problems and depressive symptomatology, even after controlling for social relationships. Education and household income were not linked to mental health. Poor structural and functional social relationships were related to general mental health problems and depressive symptomatology. Notably, trends remained stable after accounting for socioeconomic conditions.

Conclusion

This study provides evidence for socioeconomic inequalities in social relationships as well as for independent associations of financial strain and poor social relationships with mental health problems in individuals with SCI. Further research may develop strategies to improve mental health in SCI by strengthening social relationships. Such interventions may be especially beneficial for individuals with low income and financial strain.

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<![CDATA[Supported employment: Meta-analysis and review of randomized controlled trials of individual placement and support]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c76fe41d5eed0c484e5b7ab

Supported employment is a treatment whereby those with severe mental illness (or other disabilities) receive aid searching for competitive employment and mental health (or other) treatments concurrently. The most popular implementation of supported employment is individual placement and support (IPS). We conducted meta-analytic analyses of the randomized controlled trials of IPS. We found that subjects in IPS, compared to usual treatment conditions, had better vocational outcomes (obtained any competitive employment: RR = 1.63, 95%CI = [1.46, 1.82]; job tenure: d = 0.55, 95%CI = [0.33, 0.79]; job length: d = 0.46, 95%CI = [0.35, 0.57]; income: d = 0.48, 95%CI = [0.36, 0.59]) Non-vocational outcomes estimates, while favoring IPS, included the null (quality of life: d = 0.30, 95%CI = [-0.07, 0.67]; global functioning: d = 0.09, 95%CI = [-0.09, 0.27]; mental health: d = 0.03, 95%CI = [-0.15, 0.21]). Analysis of the expected proportion of studies with a true effect on non-vocational outcomes with d>0.2 showed some reason to expect a possible improvement for quality of life for at least some settings (Prop = 0.57, 95%CI = [0.30, 0.84]).

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<![CDATA[Pressure redistributing in-seat movement activities by persons with spinal cord injury over multiple epochs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dc9fdd5eed0c48452a665

Pressure ulcers, by definition, are caused by external forces on the tissues, often in the regions of bony prominences. Wheelchair users are at risk to develop sitting-acquired pressure ulcers, which occur in the regions of the ischial tuberosities, sacrum/coccyx or greater trochanters. As a means to prevent pressure ulcers, instruction on performing pressure reliefs or weight shifts are a part of the rehabilitation process. The objective of this study was to monitor the weight shift activity of full-time wheelchair users with acute spinal cord injury over multiple epochs of time in order to determine consistency or routine within and across epochs. A second objective was to evaluate the accuracy of self-reported pressure relief frequency within each measurement epoch. A wheelchair in-seat activity monitor was used to measure weight shifts and other in-seat movement. The data was classified into multiple in-seat activity metrics using machine learning. Seventeen full-time wheelchair users with spinal cord injury were measured within multiple epochs, each lasting more than 1 week. Across all in-seat activity metrics, no consistent pattern of activity changes emerged. None of the in-seat activity metric changed in any one direction across a majority of subjects. Subjects tended to over-estimate their frequency of performing pressure reliefs. Self-reported pressure relief behaviors are not reliable, and therefore, cannot be used to evaluate preventative behaviors either clinically or within research. This study had the capability of fully investigating in-seat movements of wheelchair users. The results indicated that in-seat movement does not reflect a routine, either in pressure reliefs, weight shifts or other functional in-seat movements. This study has illustrated the complexity of assigning causation of pressure ulcer occurrence to seated behaviors of wheelchair users and identifies the need for improved clinical techniques designed to develop routine behaviors to prevent pressure ulcers.

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<![CDATA[A scoping review of biopsychosocial risk factors and co-morbidities for common spinal disorders]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b28b3fe463d7e129299938d

Objective

The purpose of this review was to identify risk factors, prognostic factors, and comorbidities associated with common spinal disorders.

Methods

A scoping review of the literature of common spinal disorders was performed through September 2016. To identify search terms, we developed 3 terminology groups for case definitions: 1) spinal pain of unknown origin, 2) spinal syndromes, and 3) spinal pathology. We used a comprehensive strategy to search PubMed for meta-analyses and systematic reviews of case-control studies, cohort studies, and randomized controlled trials for risk and prognostic factors and cross-sectional studies describing associations and comorbidities.

Results

Of 3,453 candidate papers, 145 met study criteria and were included in this review. Risk factors were reported for group 1: non-specific low back pain (smoking, overweight/obesity, negative recovery expectations), non-specific neck pain (high job demands, monotonous work); group 2: degenerative spinal disease (workers’ compensation claim, degenerative scoliosis), and group 3: spinal tuberculosis (age, imprisonment, previous history of tuberculosis), spinal cord injury (age, accidental injury), vertebral fracture from osteoporosis (type 1 diabetes, certain medications, smoking), and neural tube defects (folic acid deficit, anti-convulsant medications, chlorine, influenza, maternal obesity). A range of comorbidities was identified for spinal disorders.

Conclusion

Many associated factors for common spinal disorders identified in this study are modifiable. The most common spinal disorders are co-morbid with general health conditions, but there is a lack of clarity in the literature differentiating which conditions are merely comorbid versus ones that are risk factors. Modifiable risk factors present opportunities for policy, research, and public health prevention efforts on both the individual patient and community levels. Further research into prevention interventions for spinal disorders is needed to address this gap in the literature.

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<![CDATA[Glial Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha (TNFα) Generates Metaplastic Inhibition of Spinal Learning]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db12ab0ee8fa60bcc71d

Injury-induced overexpression of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) in the spinal cord can induce chronic neuroinflammation and excitotoxicity that ultimately undermines functional recovery. Here we investigate how TNFα might also act to upset spinal function by modulating spinal plasticity. Using a model of instrumental learning in the injured spinal cord, we have previously shown that peripheral intermittent stimulation can produce a plastic change in spinal plasticity (metaplasticity), resulting in the prolonged inhibition of spinal learning. We hypothesized that spinal metaplasticity may be mediated by TNFα. We found that intermittent stimulation increased protein levels in the spinal cord. Using intrathecal pharmacological manipulations, we showed TNFα to be both necessary and sufficient for the long-term inhibition of a spinal instrumental learning task. These effects were found to be dependent on glial production of TNFα and involved downstream alterations in calcium-permeable AMPA receptors. These findings suggest a crucial role for glial TNFα in undermining spinal learning, and demonstrate the therapeutic potential of inhibiting TNFα activity to rescue and restore adaptive spinal plasticity to the injured spinal cord. TNFα modulation represents a novel therapeutic target for improving rehabilitation after spinal cord injury.

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<![CDATA[The Glial Scar-Monocyte Interplay: A Pivotal Resolution Phase in Spinal Cord Repair]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da12ab0ee8fa60b79e4d

The inflammatory response in the injured spinal cord, an immune privileged site, has been mainly associated with the poor prognosis. However, recent data demonstrated that, in fact, some leukocytes, namely monocytes, are pivotal for repair due to their alternative anti-inflammatory phenotype. Given the pro-inflammatory milieu within the traumatized spinal cord, known to skew monocytes towards a classical phenotype, a pertinent question is how parenchymal-invading monocytes acquire resolving properties essential for healing, under such unfavorable conditions. In light of the spatial association between resolving (interleukin (IL)-10 producing) monocytes and the glial scar matrix chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (CSPG), in this study we examined the mutual relationship between these two components. By inhibiting the de novo production of CSPG following spinal cord injury, we demonstrated that this extracellular matrix, mainly known for its ability to inhibit axonal growth, serves as a critical template skewing the entering monocytes towards the resolving phenotype. In vitro cell culture studies demonstrated that this matrix alone is sufficient to induce such monocyte polarization. Reciprocal conditional ablation of the monocyte-derived macrophages concentrated at the lesion margins, using diphtheria toxin, revealed that these cells have scar matrix-resolving properties. Replenishment of monocytic cell populations to the ablated mice demonstrated that this extracellular remodeling ability of the infiltrating monocytes requires their expression of the matrix-degrading enzyme, matrix metalloproteinase 13 (MMP-13), a property that was found here to be crucial for functional recovery. Altogether, this study demonstrates that the glial scar-matrix, a known obstacle to regeneration, is a critical component skewing the encountering monocytes towards a resolving phenotype. In an apparent feedback loop, monocytes were found to regulate scar resolution. This cross-regulation between the glial scar and monocytes primes the resolution of this interim phase of spinal cord repair, thereby providing a fundamental platform for the dynamic healing response.

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<![CDATA[Effects of Constant and Doublet Frequency Electrical Stimulation Patterns on Force Production of Knee Extensor Muscles]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da09ab0ee8fa60b7708d

This study compared knee extensors’ neuromuscular fatigue in response to two 30-minute stimulation patterns: constant frequency train (CFT) and doublet frequency train (DFT). Fifteen men underwent two separate sessions corresponding to each pattern. Measurements included torque evoked by each contraction and maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) measured before and immediately after the stimulation sessions. In addition, activation level and torque evoked during doublets (Pd) and tetanic contractions at 80-Hz (P80) and 20-Hz (P20) were determined in six subjects. Results indicated greater mean torque during the DFT stimulation session as compared with CFT. But, no difference was obtained between the two stimulation patterns for MVC and evoked torque decreases. Measurements conducted in the subgroup depicted a significant reduction of Pd, P20 and P80. Statistical analyses also revealed bigger P20 immediate reductions after CFT than after DFT. We concluded that DFT could be a useful stimulation pattern to produce and maintain greater force with quite similar fatigue than CFT.

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<![CDATA[The Multifaceted Effects of Agmatine on Functional Recovery after Spinal Cord Injury through Modulations of BMP-2/4/7 Expressions in Neurons and Glial Cells]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da9eab0ee8fa60ba4b55

Presently, few treatments for spinal cord injury (SCI) are available and none have facilitated neural regeneration and/or significant functional improvement. Agmatine (Agm), a guanidinium compound formed from decarboxylation of L-arginine by arginine decarboxylase, is a neurotransmitter/neuromodulator and been reported to exert neuroprotective effects in central nervous system injury models including SCI. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the multifaceted effects of Agm on functional recovery and remyelinating events following SCI. Compression SCI in mice was produced by placing a 15 g/mm2 weight for 1 min at thoracic vertebra (Th) 9 segment. Mice that received an intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of Agm (100 mg/kg/day) within 1 hour after SCI until 35 days showed improvement in locomotor recovery and bladder function. Emphasis was made on the analysis of remyelination events, neuronal cell preservation and ablation of glial scar area following SCI. Agm treatment significantly inhibited the demyelination events, neuronal loss and glial scar around the lesion site. In light of recent findings that expressions of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are modulated in the neuronal and glial cell population after SCI, we hypothesized whether Agm could modulate BMP- 2/4/7 expressions in neurons, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and play key role in promoting the neuronal and glial cell survival in the injured spinal cord. The results from computer assisted stereological toolbox analysis (CAST) demonstrate that Agm treatment dramatically increased BMP- 2/7 expressions in neurons and oligodendrocytes. On the other hand, BMP- 4 expressions were significantly decreased in astrocytes and oligodendrocytes around the lesion site. Together, our results reveal that Agm treatment improved neurological and histological outcomes, induced oligodendrogenesis, protected neurons, and decreased glial scar formation through modulating the BMP- 2/4/7 expressions following SCI.

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<![CDATA[A Role for Neuropilins in the Interaction between Schwann Cells and Meningeal Cells]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9e9ab0ee8fa60b6c37f

In their natural habitat, the peripheral nerve, Schwann cells (SCs) form nicely aligned pathways (also known as the bands of Büngner) that guide regenerating axons to their targets. Schwann cells that are implanted in the lesioned spinal cord fail to align in pathways that could support axon growth but form cellular clusters that exhibit only limited intermingling with the astrocytes and meningeal cells (MCs) that are present in the neural scar. The formation of cell clusters can be studied in co-cultures of SCs and MCs. In these co-cultures SCs form cluster-like non-overlapping cell aggregates with well-defined boundaries. There are several indications that neuropilins (NRPs) play an important role in MC-induced SC aggregation. Both SCs and MCs express NRP1 and NRP2 and SCs express the NRP ligands Sema3B, C and E while MCs express Sema3A, C, E and F. We now demonstrate that in SC-MC co-cultures, siRNA mediated knockdown of NRP2 in SCs decreased the formation of SC clusters while these SCs maintained their capacity to align in bands of Büngner-like columnar arrays. Unexpectedly, knockdown of NRP1 expression resulted in a significant increase in SC aggregation. These results suggest that a reduction in NRP2 expression may enhance the capacity of implanted SCs to interact with MCs that invade a neural scar formed after a lesion of the spinal cord.

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<![CDATA[Human Hepatocyte Growth Factor Promotes Functional Recovery in Primates after Spinal Cord Injury]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d2ab0ee8fa60b64901

Many therapeutic interventions for spinal cord injury (SCI) using neurotrophic factors have focused on reducing the area damaged by secondary, post-injury degeneration, to promote functional recovery. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), which is a potent mitogen for mature hepatocytes and a mediator of the inflammatory responses to tissue injury, was recently highlighted as a potent neurotrophic factor in the central nervous system. We previously reported that introducing exogenous HGF into the injured rodent spinal cord using a herpes simplex virus-1 vector significantly reduces the area of damaged tissue and promotes functional recovery. However, that study did not examine the therapeutic effects of administering HGF after injury, which is the most critical issue for clinical application. To translate this strategy to human treatment, we induced a contusive cervical SCI in the common marmoset, a primate, and then administered recombinant human HGF (rhHGF) intrathecally. Motor function was assessed using an original open field scoring system focusing on manual function, including reach-and-grasp performance and hand placement in walking. The intrathecal rhHGF preserved the corticospinal fibers and myelinated areas, thereby promoting functional recovery. In vivo magnetic resonance imaging showed significant preservation of the intact spinal cord parenchyma. rhHGF-treatment did not give rise to an abnormal outgrowth of calcitonin gene related peptide positive fibers compared to the control group, indicating that this treatment did not induce or exacerbate allodynia. This is the first study to report the efficacy of rhHGF for treating SCI in non-human primates. In addition, this is the first presentation of a novel scale for assessing neurological motor performance in non-human primates after contusive cervical SCI.

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<![CDATA[Effects of Diet and/or Exercise in Enhancing Spinal Cord Sensorimotor Learning]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db3cab0ee8fa60bd5110

Given that the spinal cord is capable of learning sensorimotor tasks and that dietary interventions can influence learning involving supraspinal centers, we asked whether the presence of omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the curry spice curcumin (Cur) by themselves or in combination with voluntary exercise could affect spinal cord learning in adult spinal mice. Using an instrumental learning paradigm to assess spinal learning we observed that mice fed a diet containing DHA/Cur performed better in the spinal learning paradigm than mice fed a diet deficient in DHA/Cur. The enhanced performance was accompanied by increases in the mRNA levels of molecular markers of learning, i.e., BDNF, CREB, CaMKII, and syntaxin 3. Concurrent exposure to exercise was complementary to the dietary treatment effects on spinal learning. The diet containing DHA/Cur resulted in higher levels of DHA and lower levels of omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA) in the spinal cord than the diet deficient in DHA/Cur. The level of spinal learning was inversely related to the ratio of AA∶DHA. These results emphasize the capacity of select dietary factors and exercise to foster spinal cord learning. Given the non-invasiveness and safety of the modulation of diet and exercise, these interventions should be considered in light of their potential to enhance relearning of sensorimotor tasks during rehabilitative training paradigms after a spinal cord injury.

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<![CDATA[Macrophage-Colony Stimulating Factor Derived from Injured Primary Afferent Induces Proliferation of Spinal Microglia and Neuropathic Pain in Rats]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d3ab0ee8fa60b64e14

Peripheral nerve injury induces proliferation of microglia in the spinal cord, which can contribute to neuropathic pain conditions. However, candidate molecules for proliferation of spinal microglia after injury in rats remain unclear. We focused on the colony-stimulating factors (CSFs) and interleukin-34 (IL-34) that are involved in the proliferation of the mononuclear phagocyte lineage. We examined the expression of mRNAs for macrophage-CSF (M-CSF), granulocyte macrophage-CSF (GM-CSF), granulocyte-CSF (G-CSF) and IL-34 in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and spinal cord after spared nerve injury (SNI) in rats. RT-PCR and in situ hybridization revealed that M-CSF and IL-34, but not GM- or G-CSF, mRNAs were constitutively expressed in the DRG, and M-CSF robustly increased in injured-DRG neurons. M-CSF receptor mRNA was expressed in naive rats and increased in spinal microglia following SNI. Intrathecal injection of M-CSF receptor inhibitor partially but significantly reversed the proliferation of spinal microglia and in early phase of neuropathic pain induced by SNI. Furthermore, intrathecal injection of recombinant M-CSF induced microglial proliferation and mechanical allodynia. Here, we demonstrate that M-CSF is a candidate molecule derived from primary afferents that induces proliferation of microglia in the spinal cord and leads to induction of neuropathic pain after peripheral nerve injury in rats.

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<![CDATA[Evaluation of Five Tests for Sensitivity to Functional Deficits following Cervical or Thoracic Dorsal Column Transection in the Rat]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da00ab0ee8fa60b73dcb

The dorsal column lesion model of spinal cord injury targets sensory fibres which originate from the dorsal root ganglia and ascend in the dorsal funiculus. It has the advantages that fibres can be specifically traced from the sciatic nerve, verifiably complete lesions can be performed of the labelled fibres, and it can be used to study sprouting in the central nervous system from the conditioning lesion effect. However, functional deficits from this type of lesion are mild, making assessment of experimental treatment-induced functional recovery difficult. Here, five functional tests were compared for their sensitivity to functional deficits, and hence their suitability to reliably measure recovery of function after dorsal column injury. We assessed the tape removal test, the rope crossing test, CatWalk gait analysis, and the horizontal ladder, and introduce a new test, the inclined rolling ladder. Animals with dorsal column injuries at C4 or T7 level were compared to sham-operated animals for a duration of eight weeks. As well as comparing groups at individual timepoints we also compared the longitudinal data over the whole time course with linear mixed models (LMMs), and for tests where steps are scored as success/error, using generalized LMMs for binomial data. Although, generally, function recovered to sham levels within 2–6 weeks, in most tests we were able to detect significant deficits with whole time-course comparisons. On the horizontal ladder deficits were detected until 5–6 weeks. With the new inclined rolling ladder functional deficits were somewhat more consistent over the testing period and appeared to last for 6–7 weeks. Of the CatWalk parameters base of support was sensitive to cervical and thoracic lesions while hind-paw print-width was affected by cervical lesion only. The inclined rolling ladder test in combination with the horizontal ladder and the CatWalk may prove useful to monitor functional recovery after experimental treatment in this lesion model.

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<![CDATA[Reorganization of Respiratory Descending Pathways following Cervical Spinal Partial Section Investigated by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in the Rat]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dae4ab0ee8fa60bbca7d

High cervical spinal cord injuries lead to permanent respiratory deficits. One preclinical model of respiratory insufficiency in adult rats is the C2 partial injury which causes unilateral diaphragm paralysis. This model allows the investigation of a particular population of respiratory bulbospinal axons which cross the midline at C3-C6 spinal segment, namely the crossed phrenic pathway. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive technique that can be used to study supraspinal descending respiratory pathways in the rat. Interestingly, a lateral C2 injury does not affect the amplitude and latency of the largest motor-evoked potential recorded from the diaphragm (MEPdia) ipsilateral to the injury in response to a single TMS pulse, compared to a sham animal. Although the rhythmic respiratory activity on the contralateral diaphragm is preserved at 7 days post-injury, no diaphragm activity can be recorded on the injured side. However, a profound reorganization of the MEPdia evoked by TMS can be observed. The MEPdia is reduced on the non-injured rather than the injured side. This suggests an increase in ipsilateral phrenic motoneurons excitability. Moreover, correlations between MEPdia amplitude and spontaneous contralateral diaphragmatic activity were observed. The larger diaphragm activity correlated with a larger MEPdia on the injured side, and a smaller MEPdia on the non-injured side. This suggests, for the first time, the occurrence of a functional neuroplasticity process involving changes in motoneuron excitability balance between the injured and non-injured sides at a short post-lesional delay.

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<![CDATA[Bimanual reach to grasp movements after cervical spinal cord injury]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db51ab0ee8fa60bdc491

Injury to the cervical spinal cord results in bilateral deficits in arm/hand function reducing functional independence and quality of life. To date little research has been undertaken to investigate control strategies of arm/hand movements following cervical spinal cord injury (cSCI). This study aimed to investigate unimanual and bimanual coordination in patients with acute cSCI using 3D kinematic analysis as they performed naturalistic reach to grasp actions with one hand, or with both hands together (symmetrical task), and compare this to the movement patterns of uninjured younger and older adults. Eighteen adults with a cSCI (mean 61.61 years) with lesions at C4-C8, with an American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) grade B to D and 16 uninjured younger adults (mean 23.68 years) and sixteen uninjured older adults (mean 70.92 years) were recruited. Participants with a cSCI produced reach-to-grasp actions which took longer, were slower, and had longer deceleration phases than uninjured participants. These differences were exacerbated during bimanual reach-to-grasp tasks. Maximal grasp aperture was no different between groups, but reached earlier by people with cSCI. Participants with a cSCI were less synchronous than younger and older adults but all groups used the deceleration phase for error correction to end the movement in a synchronous fashion. Overall, this study suggests that after cSCI a level of bimanual coordination is retained. While there seems to be a greater reliance on feedback to produce both the reach to grasp, we observed minimal disruption of the more impaired limb on the less impaired limb. This suggests that bimanual movements should be integrated into therapy.

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<![CDATA[Decoding the Attentional Demands of Gait through EEG Gamma Band Features]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da8aab0ee8fa60b9d9a2

Rehabilitation techniques are evolving focused on improving their performance in terms of duration and level of recovery. Current studies encourage the patient’s involvement in their rehabilitation. Brain-Computer Interfaces are capable of decoding the cognitive state of users to provide feedback to an external device. On this paper, cortical information obtained from the scalp is acquired with the goal of studying the cognitive mechanisms related to the users’ attention to the gait. Data from 10 healthy users and 3 incomplete Spinal Cord Injury patients are acquired during treadmill walking. During gait, users are asked to perform 4 attentional tasks. Data obtained are treated to reduce movement artifacts. Features from δ(1 − 4Hz), θ(4 − 8Hz), α(8 − 12Hz), β(12 − 30Hz), γlow(30 − 50Hz), γhigh(50 − 90Hz) frequency bands are extracted and analyzed to find which ones provide more information related to attention. The selected bands are tested with 5 classifiers to distinguish between tasks. Classification results are also compared with chance levels to evaluate performance. Results show success rates of ∼67% for healthy users and ∼59% for patients. These values are obtained using features from γ band suggesting that the attention mechanisms are related to selective attention mechanisms, meaning that, while the attention on gait decreases the level of attention on the environment and external visual information increases. Linear Discriminant Analysis, K-Nearest Neighbors and Support Vector Machine classifiers provide the best results for all users. Results from patients are slightly lower, but significantly different, than those obtained from healthy users supporting the idea that the patients pay more attention to gait during non-attentional tasks due to the inherent difficulties they have during normal gait. This study provides evidence of the existence of classifiable cortical information related to the attention level on the gait. This fact could allow the development of a real-time system that obtains the attention level during lower limb rehabilitation. This information could be used as feedback to adapt the rehabilitation strategy.

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<![CDATA[Neuroprotective Effects of N-Acetyl-Cysteine and Acetyl-L-Carnitine after Spinal Cord Injury in Adult Rats]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db33ab0ee8fa60bd247f

Following the initial acute stage of spinal cord injury, a cascade of cellular and inflammatory responses will lead to progressive secondary damage of the nerve tissue surrounding the primary injury site. The degeneration is manifested by loss of neurons and glial cells, demyelination and cyst formation. Injury to the mammalian spinal cord results in nearly complete failure of the severed axons to regenerate. We have previously demonstrated that the antioxidants N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) can attenuate retrograde neuronal degeneration after peripheral nerve and ventral root injury. The present study evaluates the effects of NAC and ALC on neuronal survival, axonal sprouting and glial cell reactions after spinal cord injury in adult rats. Tibial motoneurons in the spinal cord were pre-labeled with fluorescent tracer Fast Blue one week before lumbar L5 hemisection. Continuous intrathecal infusion of NAC (2.4 mg/day) or ALC (0.9 mg/day) was initiated immediately after spinal injury using Alzet 2002 osmotic minipumps. Neuroprotective effects of treatment were assessed by counting surviving motoneurons and by using quantitative immunohistochemistry and Western blotting for neuronal and glial cell markers 4 weeks after hemisection. Spinal cord injury induced significant loss of tibial motoneurons in L4–L6 segments. Neuronal degeneration was associated with decreased immunostaining for microtubular-associated protein-2 (MAP2) in dendritic branches, synaptophysin in presynaptic boutons and neurofilaments in nerve fibers. Immunostaining for the astroglial marker GFAP and microglial marker OX42 was increased. Treatment with NAC and ALC rescued approximately half of the motoneurons destined to die. In addition, antioxidants restored MAP2 and synaptophysin immunoreactivity. However, the perineuronal synaptophysin labeling was not recovered. Although both treatments promoted axonal sprouting, there was no effect on reactive astrocytes. In contrast, the microglial reaction was significantly attenuated. The results indicate a therapeutic potential for NAC and ALC in the early treatment of traumatic spinal cord injury.

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<![CDATA[Anticipation of wheelchair and rollerblade actions in spinal cord injured people, rollerbladers, and physiotherapists]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c95523ad5eed0c4846f31ba

Embodied Cognition Theories (ECT) postulate that higher-order cognition is heavily influenced by sensorimotor signals. We explored the active role of somatosensory afferents and motor efferents in modulating the perception of actions in people who have suffered a massive body-brain disconnection because of spinal cord injury (SCI), which leads to sensory-motor loss below the lesion. We assessed whether the habitual use of a wheelchair enhances the capacity to anticipate the endings of tool-related actions, with respect to actions that have become impossible. In a Temporal Occlusion task, three groups of participants (paraplegics, rollerbladers and physiotherapists) observed two sets of videos depicting an actor who attempted to climb onto a platform using a wheelchair or rollerblades. Three different outcomes were possible, namely: a) success (the actor went up the step); b) fail (the actor stopped before the step without going up) and c) fall (the actor fell without going up). Each video set comprised 5 different durations increasing in complexity: in the shortest (600ms) only preparatory body movements were shown and in the longest (3000ms) the complete action was shown. The participants were requested to anticipate the outcome (success, fail, fall). The main result showed that the SCI group performed better with the wheelchair videos and poorer with rollerblade videos than both groups, even if the physiotherapists group never used rollerblades. In line with the ECT, this suggests that the action anticipation skills are not only influenced by motor expertise, but also by motor connection.

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