Motor deficits in cerebral palsy disturb functional independence. This study tested whether noninvasive and painless repetitive peripheral magnetic stimulation could improve motor function in a 7-year-old boy with spastic hemiparetic cerebral palsy. Stimulation was applied over different nerves of the lower limbs for 5 sessions. We measured the concurrent aftereffects of this intervention on ankle motor control, gait (walking velocity, stride length, cadence, cycle duration), and function of brain motor pathways. We observed a decrease of ankle plantar flexors resistance to stretch, an increase of active dorsiflexion range of movement, and improvements of corticospinal control of ankle dorsiflexors. Joint mobility changes were still present 15 days after the end of stimulation, when all gait parameters were also improved. Resistance to stretch was still lower than prestimulation values 45 days after the end of stimulation. This case illustrates the sustained effects of repetitive peripheral magnetic stimulation on brain plasticity, motor function, and gait. It suggests a potential impact for physical rehabilitation in cerebral palsy.
Keywords: Cerebral palsy; Gait; Muscle spasticity; Neuronal plasticity; Peripheral nerves; Rehabilitation; Transcranial magnetic stimulation.
Copyright © 2014 American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.