Transcutaneous Spinal Neuromodulation Reorganizes Neural Networks in Patients with Cerebral Palsy

Neurotherapeutics. 2021 Jul;18(3):1953-1962. doi: 10.1007/s13311-021-01087-6. Epub 2021 Jul 9.


Spinal neuromodulation and activity-based rehabilitation triggers neural network reorganization and enhances sensory-motor performances involving the lower limbs, the trunk, and the upper limbs. This study reports the acute effects of Transcutaneous Electrical Spinal Cord Neuromodulation (SCONE™, SpineX Inc.) on 12 individuals (ages 2 to 50) diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) with Gross Motor Function Classification Scale (GMFCS) levels ranging from I to V. Acute spinal neuromodulation improved the postural and locomotor abilities in 11 out of the 12 patients including the ability to generate bilateral weight bearing stepping in a 2-year-old (GMFCS level IV) who was unable to step. In addition, we observed independent head-control and weight bearing standing with stimulation in a 10-year-old and a 4-year old (GMFCS level V) who were unable to hold their head up or stand without support in the absence of stimulation. All patients significantly improved in coordination of flexor and extensor motor pools and inter and intralimb joint angles while stepping on a treadmill. While it is assumed that the etiologies of the disruptive functions of CP are associated with an injury to the supraspinal networks, these data are consistent with the hypothesis that spinal neuromodulation and functionally focused activity-based therapies can form a functionally improved chronic state of reorganization of the spinal-supraspinal connectivity. We further suggest that the level of reorganization of spinal-supraspinal connectivity with neuromodulation contributed to improved locomotion by improving the coordination patterns of flexor and extensor muscles by modulating the amplitude and firing patterns of EMG burst during stepping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Palsy / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation / methods*
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation / methods*