Brain motor control assessment post early intensive hand rehabilitation after spinal cord injury Academic Article uri icon


  • Background: The Brain Motor Control Assessment (BMCA) is a surface electromyography (sEMG)-based measure of motor output from the central nervous system during a variety of reflex and voluntary motor tasks. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the pattern of voluntary movements in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) to investigate whether BMCA could add more resolution to clinical assessments and the recovery path of these patients. Method: Ten participants were recruited from the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre as part of a multicenter randomized controlled trial. Four participants received usual care while the other 3 participants received usual care plus an intensive task-specific hand training program in conjunction with functional electrical stimulation for 8 weeks. BMCA assessments were completed for 7 participants at this center 4 times over a period of 1 year. Results: Generalized linear model analysis showed a significant main effect of task (p < .001) and assessment time (p = .003) on the Similarity Index. However, there were no significant interactions among the factors (p > .05). Based on ARAT or summed upper limb strength scores, some participants showed significant improvement after 8 weeks of rehabilitation, however this improvement was not reflected in the pattern of muscle activation that was captured by BMCA. Conclusion: The quantifiable features of BMCA through surface EMG may increase the resolution of SCI characterization by adding subclinical details to the clinical picture of lesion severity and progression during rehabilitation.

publication date

  • 2018