EMG-triggered stimulation post spinal cord injury: a case study Academic Article uri icon


  • Mechanical injury in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) rarely transects the cord completely, even when the injury is classified as complete. These patients can show sub-clinical evidence of spared motor connections, which might be amenable to targeted rehabilitation. Neurophysiological evaluations can complement the clinical evaluation by providing objective data about conduction across the SCI site.A twenty-four year old patient with SCI was admitted to a rehabilitation centre 49 days post traumatic SCI. His injury was categorized as motor and sensory complete (AIS A) with a neurological level of C4. The strength of his triceps bilaterally was recorded 0/5 repeatedly by his therapists during the five-month period post-injury. As a result, no training was provided for these muscles during the rehabilitation program. Neurophysiological Assessment: Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were recorded from his left triceps with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) which confirmed the existence of spared corticospinal connections to this muscle post-injury.He completed a series of active-assisted exercises with an EMG-triggered neuromuscular stimulation (NMS) device for his left triceps comprising 20-minutes elbow extension (15 trials), three times per day for 4 weeks.The strength of his left triceps gradually improved to 2/5.Neurophysiological evaluation can be useful in identifying residual function below the level of injury, which can, in turn, be enhanced through appropriate rehabilitation strategies.

publication date

  • 2018