Quantitative electrophysiological assessments as predictive markers of lower limb motor recovery after spinal cord injury: a pilot study with an adaptive trial design

Spinal Cord Ser Cases. 2022 Feb 24;8(1):26. doi: 10.1038/s41394-022-00491-0.


Study design: Observational, cohort study.

Objectives: (1) Determine the feasibility and relevance of assessing corticospinal, sensory, and spinal pathways early after traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) in a rehabilitation setting. (2) Validate whether electrophysiological and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures taken early after SCI could identify preserved neural pathways, which could then guide therapy.

Setting: Intensive functional rehabilitation hospital (IFR).

Methods: Five individuals with traumatic SCI and eight controls were recruited. The lower extremity motor score (LEMS), electrical perceptual threshold (EPT) at the S2 dermatome, soleus (SOL) H-reflex, and motor evoked potentials (MEPs) in the tibialis anterior (TA) muscle were assessed during the stay in IFR and in the chronic stage (>6 months post-SCI). Control participants were only assessed once. Feasibility criteria included the absence of adverse events, adequate experimental session duration, and complete dataset gathering. The relationship between electrophysiological data collected in IFR and LEMS in the chronic phase was studied. The admission MRI was used to calculate the maximal spinal cord compression (MSCC).

Results: No adverse events occurred, but a complete dataset could not be collected for all subjects due to set-up configuration limitations and time constraints. EPT measured at IFR correlated with LEMS in the chronic phases (r = -0.67), whereas SOL H/M ratio, H latency, MEPs and MSCC did not.

Conclusions: Adjustments are necessary to implement electrophysiological assessments in an IFR setting. Combining MRI and electrophysiological measures may lead to better assessment of neuronal deficits early after SCI.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity
  • Pilot Projects
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / rehabilitation