Cervical transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation (tSCS) has been utilized in applications for improving upper-limb sensory and motor function in patients with spinal cord injury. Although therapeutic effects of continuous cervical tSCS interventions have been reported, neurophysiological mechanisms remain largely unexplored. Specifically, it is not clear whether sub-threshold intensity and 10-min duration continuous cervical tSCS intervention can affect the central nervous system excitability. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate effects of sub-motor-threshold 10-min continuous cervical tSCS applied at rest on the corticospinal and spinal reflex circuit in ten able-bodied individuals. Neurophysiological assessments were conducted to investigate (1) corticospinal excitability via transcranial magnetic stimulation applied on the primary motor cortex to evoke motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) and (2) spinal reflex excitability via single-pulse tSCS applied at the cervical level to evoke posterior root muscle (PRM) reflexes. Measurements were recorded from multiple upper-limb muscles before, during, and after the intervention. Our results showed that low-intensity and short-duration continuous cervical tSCS intervention applied at rest did not significantly affect corticospinal and spinal reflex excitability. The stimulation duration and/or intensity, as well as other stimulating parameters selection, may therefore be critical for inducing neuromodulatory effects during cervical tSCS.
- Corticospinal pathway
- Spinal reflex
- Transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas