Plasticity of the spinal neural circuitry after injury

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2004;27:145-67. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.27.070203.144308.


Motor function is severely disrupted following spinal cord injury (SCI). The spinal circuitry, however, exhibits a great degree of automaticity and plasticity after an injury. Automaticity implies that the spinal circuits have some capacity to perform complex motor tasks following the disruption of supraspinal input, and evidence for plasticity suggests that biochemical changes at the cellular level in the spinal cord can be induced in an activity-dependent manner that correlates with sensorimotor recovery. These characteristics should be strongly considered as advantageous in developing therapeutic strategies to assist in the recovery of locomotor function following SCI. Rehabilitative efforts combining locomotor training pharmacological means and/or spinal cord electrical stimulation paradigms will most likely result in more effective methods of recovery than using only one intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / trends
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / physiopathology
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation