Author(s): Gorassini MA, Norton JA, NevettDuchcherer J, Roy FD, Yang JF
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Abstract Intensive treadmill training after incomplete spinal cord injury can improve functional walking abilities. To determine the changes in muscle activation patterns that are associated with improvements in walking, we measured the electromyography (EMG) of leg muscles in 17 individuals with incomplete spinal cord injury during similar walking conditions both before and after training. Specific differences were observed between subjects that eventually gained functional improvements in overground walking (responders), compared with subjects where treadmill training was ineffective (nonresponders). Although both groups developed a more regular and less clonic EMG pattern on the treadmill, it was only the tibialis anterior and hamstring muscles in the responders that displayed increases in EMG activation. Likewise, only the responders demonstrated decreases in burst duration and cocontraction of proximal (hamstrings and quadriceps) muscle activity. Surprisingly, the proximal muscle activity in the responders, unlike nonresponders, was three- to fourfold greater than that in uninjured control subjects walking at similar speeds and level of body weight support, suggesting that the ability to modify muscle activation patterns after injury may predict the ability of subjects to further compensate in response to motor training. In summary, increases in the amount and decreases in the duration of EMG activity of specific muscles are associated with functional recovery of walking skills after treadmill training in subjects that are able to modify muscle activity patterns following incomplete spinal cord injury.
This article was published in J Neurophysiol
and referenced in Journal of Novel Physiotherapies