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Effects of somatosensory electrical stimulation on motor function and cortical oscillations.

  • Author(s): Tu-Chan, Adelyn P
  • Natraj, Nikhilesh
  • Godlove, Jason
  • Abrams, Gary
  • Ganguly, Karunesh
  • et al.
Abstract

Background

Few patients recover full hand dexterity after an acquired brain injury such as stroke. Repetitive somatosensory electrical stimulation (SES) is a promising method to promote recovery of hand function. However, studies using SES have largely focused on gross motor function; it remains unclear if it can modulate distal hand functions such as finger individuation.

Objective

The specific goal of this study was to monitor the effects of SES on individuation as well as on cortical oscillations measured using EEG, with the additional goal of identifying neurophysiological biomarkers.

Methods

Eight participants with a history of acquired brain injury and distal upper limb motor impairments received a single two-hour session of SES using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Pre- and post-intervention assessments consisted of the Action Research Arm Test (ARAT), finger fractionation, pinch force, and the modified Ashworth scale (MAS), along with resting-state EEG monitoring.

Results

SES was associated with significant improvements in ARAT, MAS and finger fractionation. Moreover, SES was associated with a decrease in low frequency (0.9-4 Hz delta) ipsilesional parietomotor EEG power. Interestingly, changes in ipsilesional motor theta (4.8-7.9 Hz) and alpha (8.8-11.7 Hz) power were significantly correlated with finger fractionation improvements when using a multivariate model.

Conclusions

We show the positive effects of SES on finger individuation and identify cortical oscillations that may be important electrophysiological biomarkers of individual responsiveness to SES. These biomarkers can be potential targets when customizing SES parameters to individuals with hand dexterity deficits.

Trial registration

NCT03176550; retrospectively registered.

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