Volume 44 Number 1 2007
Pages 69 — 76

Abstract - Review of physiological motor outcome measures in spinal cord injury using transcranial magnetic stimulation and spinal reflexes

Peter H. Ellaway, PhD;1* Maria Catley;1 Nick J. Davey, PhD;1† Annapoorna Kuppuswamy, MSc;1 Paul Strutton, PhD;2 Hans L. Frankel, MB;3 Ali Jamous, MD, MSc;3 Gordana Savic, MD, MSc3

Divisions of 1Neuroscience and Mental Health and 2Surgery, Anaesthetics, and Intensive Care, Imperial College London, Charing Cross Campus, London, UK; 3National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury, UK
Abstract — This article reviews methods that have been developed as part of a clinical initiative on improving outcome measures for motor function assessment in subjects with spinal cord injury (SCI). Physiological motor outcome measures originally developed for limbs-transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the motor cortex to elicit motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) and mechanical stimulation to elicit spinal reflexes-have been extended to muscles of the trunk. The impetus for this development is the lack of a motor component in the American Spinal Injury Association clinical assessment for the thoracic myotomes. The application of TMS to the assessment of limb muscles is reviewed, followed by consideration of its application to the assessment of paravertebral and intercostal muscles. Spinal reflex testing of paravertebral muscles is also described. The principal markers for the thoracic SCI motor level that have emerged from this clinical initiative are (1) the threshold of MEPs in paravertebral muscles in response to TMS of the motor cortex, (2) the facilitation pattern and latency of MEPs in intercostal muscles during voluntary expiratory effort, and (3) the absence of long-latency reflex responses and the exaggeration of short-latency reflex responses in paravertebral muscles.
Key words: corticospinal function, motor cortex, motor-evoked potentials, motor function outcomes, rehabilitation, reinnervation, spinal cord injury, spinal reflexes, transcranial magnetic stimulation, trunk muscles.

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