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Abstract

After spinal cord injury (SCI) transmission at spino-muscular circuitry and thus voluntary contraction of leg muscles are impaired. Our recent animal studies revealed that repetitive electro-magnetic stimulation over thoracic and lumbar spinal levels using spinal electromagnetic stimulation (SEMS) improved excitability of spared axons and strengthened transmission; these physiological improvements associated with improved function in chronic SCI rats. In an effort to translate these results into human experiments, and as our preliminary phase, we have examined 12 healthy, adult humans to determine whether SEMS can (i) activate neural pathways innervating leg muscles and (ii) modulate neurophysiological properties at spino-muscular circuitry. The SEMS coil was positioned over spinal levels and we examined and compared Compound Motor Action Potential (CMAP) recorded simultaneously and wirelessly from several leg muscles. We also examined effects of SEMS trains on characteristics and modulation of soleus H-reflexes and M-responses. Importantly, application of SEMS trains induced facilitation of H-reflexes. Results suggest that SEMS is an important approach for neurophysiological evaluation and neuromodulation of the lower limb spino-neuromuscular circuitry.

Biography

Dr. Sisto is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Science at the University at Buffalo.  Dr. Sisto has been a physical therapist for more than 35 years, specializing in pathokinesiology, the study of human movement as it relates to any abnormal condition affecting movement. She is currently the Director of the Biomechanics lab at UB where her research involves the recovery of function after spinal cord injury after locomotor and neuromodulation interventions. Dr. Sisto has previously designed and built 2 other similar labs at Kessler Institute in NJ (USA) and at Stony Brook University (Long Island, NY).  Additionally, she has focused on recovery of walking and health outcomes after spinal cord injury. She has received several SCI grants examining wheelchair propulsion biomechanics, locomotor training effects on respiratory/autonomic/cardiovascular outcomes. Notably, in 2012, she became the first physical therapist to be named a fellow of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM), which recognizes individuals who make significant contributions to the field of medical rehabilitation, and she served as president of ACRM from 2013-15.

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